For the first time ever, researchers in New Zealand have shown that mitochondrial DNA can move between cells in an animal tumor. It's an extraordinary finding that could lead to an entirely new field of synthetic biology and the treatment of hundreds of diseases.
Every polar bear alive today shares a common maternal ancestor, and it isn't even a bear from the same species. Their mitochondrial DNA reveals a 100,000 year story of interbreeding and hybridization...and the story is far from over.
The technology is now in place for three different parents to contribute DNA to an embryo - two of them providing the 98% of DNA in the cell nucleus, while another provides the crucial 2% that is mitochondrial DNA.
Five centuries before Columbus reached the Americas, Vikings briefly settled on the northern tip of Newfoundland. Now the DNA of four Icelandic families reveals it wasn't just Europeans traveling to the Americas...at least one Native American went back with them.
Finally, a reason to think we'll survive the next apocalypse. Last week, a study that traced the origins of humans through mitochondrial DNA concluded that 70,000 years ago humanity underwent its greatest disaster ever. Africa experienced a massive drought at the time and it devastated our population, leaving perhaps…