First Results from The Genographic Project Mitochondrial DNA Database

First Results from The Genographic Project Mitochondrial DNA Database

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted June 29, 2007 in DNA and Genealogy

phylogeny of mtDNA haplogroupsFollowing up on yesterday’s discussion of the sale (or biopiracy) of Amerindian DNA for research purposes, National Geographic’s Genographic Project has published the first results from an analysis of their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) database in PLoS Genetics. The database is made up of almost 80,000 genotypes and is the largest standardized human mtDNA database ever collected – most from from participants like Jason at The Personal Genome, who purchased kits in the US and Western Europe. Samples collected from indigenous populations are in a separate database and will be published later.

FYI, here are a few reasons why mtDNA is so useful in genetic anthropology and genealogy:

  • It’s uniparental, inherited only from the mother
  • It has a nonrecombining mode of inheritance.
  • It has a high mutation rate compared to that of the nuclear genome

If I’m not mistaken, however, the Genographic Project only analyzed mtDNA in female participants even though men also inherit mtDNA from their mothers. Can anyone tell me why?

More on the Genographic Project results from Blaine at The Genetic Genealogist.

Update: Here are Blaine’s thoughts on why the mtDNA tests were only offered to women.

I’ve wondered this too, since they’re losing so many potential mtDNA samples from all the males (who only get their Y chromosome tested). But as far as I can tell, the major reason is financial – by only offering a single test to each sex, the cost is the same for both males and females. Men would complain if they had to pay double, and women would complain if males got two tests for the price of one.

But I have heard of males paying for a second sample and sending it in under “Ms.” instead of “Mr.” After all, $99 for mtDNA haplotyping is about the best deal out there!

via Wired

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