In most species mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is inherited maternally in an apparently clonal fashion, although how this is achieved remains uncertain. Population genetic studies show not only that individuals can harbor more than one type of mtDNA (heteroplasmy) but that heteroplasmy is common and widespread across a diversity of taxa. Females harboring a mixture of mtDNAs may transmit varying proportions of each mtDNA type (haplotype) to their offspring. However, mtDNA variants are also observed to segregate rapidly between generations despite the high mtDNA copy number in the oocyte, which suggests a genetic bottleneck acts during mtDNA transmission. Understanding the size and timing of this bottleneck is important for interpreting population genetic relationships and for predicting the inheritance of mtDNA based disease, but despite its importance the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Empirical studies, restricted to mice, have shown that the mtDNA bottleneck could act either at embryogenesis, oogenesis or both. To investigate whether the size and timing of the mitochondrial bottleneck is conserved between distant vertebrates, we measured the genetic variance in mtDNA heteroplasmy at three developmental stages (female, ova and fry) in chinook salmon and applied a new mathematical model to estimate the number of segregating units (
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 31-May-2011
Author(s): Wolff J., White D., Woodhams M., White H., Gemmell N.