'Mother's curse' — mtDNA mutations and their asymmetric fitness effects

16 November 2018

Neil Gemmell
Department of Anatomy
University of Otago, New Zealand


Mitochondria are central to eukaryotic life. Mitochondria retain their own genome (mtDNA) and this molecule has important roles in energy production and a growing list of other processes. Mitochondrial DNA is almost universally inherited solely through the female lineage, which provides opportunity for selection to operate asymmetrically between males and females. A growing body of work suggests strongly that mtDNA mutations may have stronger effects on phenotype in males than females – an idea I termed 'Mother's Curse'. In this theory talk I will review the development of the Mother's Curse hypothesis and the still accumulating evidence that supports it. I will also explore some areas in evolution and ecology where this theory might have impact or application, including a new form of biocontrol.

current theory lunch schedule