A View from Anthony Lioi

Mitochondria and the Mob

An article in USA Today reports that new mitochondrial DNA testing techniques may help to identify the murderer of a number of Mob figures buried in swamps around the New York City metropolitan area.Mitochondria, the organelles in animal cells responsible…

  • February 22, 2005

An article in USA Today reports that new mitochondrial DNA testing techniques may help to identify the murderer of a number of Mob figures buried in swamps around the New York City metropolitan area.

Mitochondria, the organelles in animal cells responsible for respiration, carry their own DNA. The discovery of mitochondrial DNA was one of the triggers for the Endosymbiosis Hypothesis of cell evolution, which holds that eukaryotic cells, which have differentiated internal parts, evolved from an alliance of prokaryotes (such as bacteria), early in the history of life on earth.

Here’s the funny part: because mitochondria are inherited through the maternal line, m-DNA analysis is particularly good at identifying blood relatives. (Strike one for Cosa Nostra.) Also, mitochondria appear to be closely related to blue-green algae, which brings us back to the swamps mentioned earlier. (Oh, the irony!)

Who says evolution doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.