Happy Mother’s Day!
Mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA) is a specific type of DNA that is passed down from the mother to all her children. In biology, you probably learned that men are XY and women are XX. In men, the Y is from the dad, and the X is from the mother. Women get one X from the mother, and the other X is from the father’s mother. This is probably too simplistic, but I keep it simple, and this is basically correct.
Thinking about the X chromosome that is passed down from the mother, you realize that this particular X chromosome is directly from your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother…and so on back.
What this means is that my son’s Mitochondrial DNA is not the same as mine. He got his from his mother, and I got mine from my mother—we have different mt-DNA. Paschal, his mother, and his maternal grandmother share the same mt-DNA. My brother and I share with my mother and her mother. My great-uncle, maternal grandmother Imogene’s brother, Eldon, and I also share the same mt-DNA because we descend from the same direct maternal lineage of Polly Dickson Woods—through her daughter, then granddaughter, then great-granddaughter, and so on. I could not pass on this mt-DNA to my son, Paschal, because it must come from the mother. If I had a sister, she would carry the mt-DNA on, but I don’t have a sister. All my first cousins born of my mother’s sisters also share my mt-DNA, but only the female cousins will pass it on. All my first cousins from my mother’s brothers will have their respective mothers’ mt-DNA.
Another unique condition about mt-DNA is that the last name of the giver usually changes every generation back. For example, my surname is Norton, but my mother was a Billingsley, her mother a Beghtol, and the name changes each step back in time. The surnames of female ancestors are often lost to us as we research farther back into history.
Here’s to some of the important mt-DNA contributors in my and my son’s genes. Happy Mother’s Day!
Paschal’s mt-DNA from Amy Graham Norton
from Jeanese Stanyer Graham from Elma Dorr Stanyer from Cecil Mae Reeves Dorr from Emma Sroade Reeves from Ann M. Baker Sroade from Ellen McCormack Baker md. Otho Baker, Dec 15, 1841 in Berkeley County, (West) Virginia.
Dann’s mt-DNA from Lou-Ann Billingsley Norton from Imogene Beghtol Billingsley
from Bernice Phillips Beghtol from Kate Montooth Phillips from Mary Jane Sloan Montooth from Elizabeth Humphreys Sloan from Jane Woods Humphreys from Polly Dickson Woods wife of John Woods, married late 1790s, probably in Tennessee.
Danny L. Norton’s mt-DNA from Mary L. Gott Norton from Ida McAtee Shirley Gott from Dicy Harper McAtee
from Nancy Ratliff Harper from Charlotte White Ratliff from Mary Blackburn White said to be the daughter of Margaret Wilson Blackburn, wife of Archibald Blackburn who died 1749 in Frederick County, Virginia.
Of course, there are many more mothers in my family tree. These named are just the women who make up the direct-line maternal link that gave the mitochondrial DNA that is part of ME!