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This special DNA isn’t just from moms anymore

Mitochondria, the organelles that power cells, harbor their own DNA, and scientists long thought that only mothers could pass this genetic material on to their children. But a new study suggests dads may not be the deadbeats we thought they were, PBS’s NOVA reports. By sequencing mitochondrial DNA from individuals with mysterious symptoms and their relatives, scientists discovered evidence for paternal inheritance in 17 people from three different families, they reveal this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Father-to-offspring transmission—which researchers have seen before in sheep, flies, and even mice—is probably rare in humans, but the new work suggests more of us may be carrying a mitochondrial legacy from our dads than we realized.

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