Mitochondrial DNA Mutation Rates and Common Ancestors

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DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

One of the most common questions I receive about mitochondrial DNA is what matches with 1 or 2 differences, meaning mutations, mean relative to how long ago the two people are related.

And the answer, is, of course, “it depends.”  Don’t you just hate that.

First, it depends on whether you are referring to just the mutations in the HVR1 or HVR1+HVR2 regions, or the entire full sequence.  Clearly, the full sequence test provides the most refinement, because it tests the entire mitochondria, all 16569 locations, and compares them with others who take the full sequence test.

Family Tree DNA has this to say.

  • Matching on HVR1 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last fifty-two generations. That is about 1,300 years.
  • Matching on HVR1 and HVR2 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last twenty-eight…

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