How and why can
mitochondrial DNA be
used to trace family
By Ali, Lara, and Jeremy
Overview of Mitochondrial DNA to Family Ancestry
What does mitochondrial DNA help us achieve?
With mitochondrial DNA we can trace a person’s maternal family
Using mitochondrial DNA we have been able to achieve as far back
as a common ancestor of all human beings.
Using mitochondrial DNA we are also able to track our family’s
ancestor’s migration patterns (where they traveled/moved)
What question are we trying to answer using mtDNA?
We are trying to discover our maternal family ancestor.
By using mitochondrial DNA we are able to discover where we came
from and who we are.
History and Major Points
1960: Mitochondrial DNA was discovered using electron microscopy
and biochemical assays.
1987: Using Mitochondrial DNA, the Mitochondrial Eve was discovered.
This links all humans to one common maternal ancestor.
The science behind using mitochondrial
DNA to trace family ancestry
• What is Mitochondrial DNA?
• DNA found in mitochondrion
• Only mother passes on mitochondrial
DNA to offspring
• Ancestral Markers
• Mutations in D-loop region
• Unique sequences characterize
a maternal family line
• Analysis of mitochondrial DNA can
uncover a person’s ancestral
haplogroups and migrations
Analyzing Mitochondrial DNA
• Mitochondrial DNA sequencing
• Purification of mitochondrial DNA
• Copying and enlarging of D-loop DNA
• Gel electrophoresis to identify nucleotide
• SNP testing
• Specific questions about maternal lineage
• Changes at a single point in genetic code
Is using mitochondrial DNA to
trace family ancestry controversial?
• Mitochondrial Eve recalculated to have lived 60,000 years ago based
on rate of mitochondrial DNA mutations
• Conflicts with results from other well-established methods of dating
• DNA recombination
• DNA recombination and faster mitochondrial DNA could disprove
family migration dates and result in miscalculation of ancestral
• Currently no consensus on mutation rate
How Mitochondrial DNA is currently being used to
trace family ancestry
• Remove Contaminants and add lysis solution
2.Mitochondrial DNA Extraction
• Organic Chemical detaches empty DNA
3.Polymerase Chain Reaction Amplification
• Process in which small DNA are amplified
4.mtDNA Purification and Quantification
• Chemical is added that removes excess PCR molecules and sample
is quantified (measured) to determine concentration of amplified empty DNA region
• Empty DNA double strand is denatured into 2 single strands which undergo PCR. Scientists tag the
desired strand and then with Gel electrophoresis scientists separate DNA fragments
The future potential of tracing mtDNA
back to our ancestors
• Mitochondrial Eve
• Theory that every human is related to each other
• Mother than connects us all is Mitochondrial Eve
• Potential of tracing empty DNA will eventually
lead to the discovery of one’s family lineage
• The biotechnology can answer who we are and where we
we came from?
Bibliography (for Images)
• Mitochondria. Photograph. Learning Center. 2014. Accessed January 2,
• MtDNA SNP Mutation. Image. Learning Center.
2014. Accessed January 2, 2014. http://www.genebase.com/learning/article/
• Oppenheimer, Stephen. "Mitochondrial DNA: The Eve Gene." Mitochondrial Eve.
Accessed January 8, 2014. http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/journey/
• Inheritance Pattern of mtDNA. Photograph. Learning Center. 2014. Accessed January 5,
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