Prof Debra Meyer: Mitochondrial DNA reveals unexpected ancestral connections
AS A COUNTRY WE FOCUS ON APARTHEID AS THE ORIGIN OF ALL OUR ILLS, WHILE OUR SLAVERY HERITAGE IS LARGELY FORGOTTEN.
A recent opinion piece by Prof Debra Meyer, Alumna, Executive Dean of Science and Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) was published in The Conversation on September 1, 2019. Biochemists study life on a molecular level. So, as a biochemist, it made sense to investigate my own existence at that deepest of levels, which is why I had my DNA sequenced – my mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, to be exact. This genetic material is found inside mitochondria, the sub-cellular compartments or organelles where food is converted into energy. DNA from this organelle is passed down primarily from mothers to their children. During fertilisation, the father’s sperm transfers his chromosomal DNA into the
female egg, leaving the mitochondria behind.
If any of the male mitochondria are transferred into the egg, it is usually destroyed by internal processes.
Prof Debra Meyer
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