Male Mitochondria

Perhaps not the most urgent news you’ll read today, but biologically the most unexpected. (Yes, even more than pool plyometrics). Mitochondria are the little engines inside our cells that allow us to process oxygen and carbs into energy. It’s long been held that we inherit our mitochondria only from our mothers. Hundreds of papers have been written based on this belief; if you’ve heard of “mitochondrial Eve,” the deep ancestor of all living humans, it’s based on this.
Turns out it’s wrong. Even more amazing, wrong on two levels – we can inherit mitochondria from our fathers, and the mitochondria in male and female ‘germ cell’ (sperm and eggs) can exchange DNA. (Mitochondria have their own DNA, distinct from ours, though what “ours” means is pretty fuzzy here.) No-one knows how they do it yet, or how common it is, or what the effects on reproductive and evolutionary biology will be. But your ability to use oxygen at the end of a 5K may come from both your mom and your dad. (5/24)

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