Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Genetics in Medicine - Part 2 » Extranuclear Inheritance - Genes In Mitochondria And Chloroplasts, Endosymbiotic Origin Of Mitochondria And Chloroplasts, Non-mendelian Inheritance Of Organelle Genes

Extranuclear Inheritance - The Practical Importance Of Extranuclear Genes

social chromosome differences genetic mitochondrial science trace evolutionary

Mutations of mitochondrial genes have been found to cause a number of hereditary diseases in humans. Many of these mutations lead to defects in muscles, including the heart, and the nervous system. Because mitochondrial genes are found in nearly all eukaryotes, they are often used to trace the evolutionary history of organisms, including humans. Chloroplast genes are used for evolutionary studies in plants and algae. When organelle genes are inherited from only one parent, they can be used to trace the ancestry of individuals within a species without the complications caused by recombination between maternal and paternal genes.

Mitochondrial genes can also be used to trace the female ancestor of humans, while Y-chromosome genes can be used to trace male ancestors. In this way, differences between males and females in migration or patterns of reproduction can be detected. In addition, mitochondrial genes are used in studies of animal behavior to identify the parents of animals and birds and determine their social structure. Since the organelle genome is so highly simplified, mtDNA or cpDNA can be retrieved and analyzed from ancient or poorly preserved samples in which there would be no chance of retrieving a nuclear marker.

C. William Birky,Jr.

Bibliography

Cann, Rebecca L. "Genetic Clues to Dispersal in Human Populations: Retracing the Past from the Present." Science 291 (2001): 1742-1748.

Enserink, Martin. "Evolutionary Biology: Thanks to a Parasite, Asexual Reproduction Catches On." Science 275 (1997): 1743-1750.

Gray, Michael W., Gertraud Burger, and B. Franz Lang. "Mitochondrial Evolution." Science 283 (1999): 1476-1481.

Ochman, Howard, and Nancy A. Moran. "Genes Lost and Genes Found: Evolution of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Symbiosis." Science 292 (2001): 1096-1099.

Palmer, Jeffrey D. "Organelle Genomes: Going, Going, Gone!" Science 275 (1997): 790.

Wallace, Douglas C. "Mitochondrial Diseases in Man and Mouse." Science 283 (1999): 1482-1488.

Yaffe, Michael P. "The Machinery of Mitochondrial Inheritance and Behavior." Science 283 (1999): 1493-1497.

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