MTDNA and Y-DNA : The Journey Of DNAs Inheritance Paths

Every human inherits portions of DNA, a biological code, from their parents, grandparents, and other ancestors which affects many physical, emotional, and behavioral characteristics of mtDNA and Y-DNA.

The journey that DNA takes from ancestor to descendants, from generation to generation follows four major DNA inheritance paths. Two of these inheritance paths- MTDNA and Y-DNA will be discussed in this article.

Genetic inheritance MTDNA and Y-DNA:-

DNA is extremely valuable for genealogical research because of the nature of genetic inheritance. Genetic inheritance is:

  • Universal- Children are never excluded from their genetic legacy
  • Uniform– No child inherits more DNA than other children
  • Independent– one child inheriting a part of the DNA does not exclude another child from inheriting a copy of the same DNA
  • Mutual– Descendants share copies of the DNA they inherit from their ancestors.


Mitochondrial DNA is a small, circular genome in the mitochondria (energy powerhouse)of the cell. It is the only DNA outside the nucleus. Although both males and females inherit mitochondrial DNA from their mothers, only females can pass it on to their children.

Since mitochondrial DNA represents an individual’s direct-line maternal ancestry, it can be used to address questions of share maternal ancestry. When two individuals share the same mitochondrial DNA signature, they share a common direct-line maternal ancestress.

Sometimes mutations are introduced into mitochondrial DNA before it is passed down to the next generation. This can help delineate unique mitochondrial lineages and these lineages are group according to their common hierarchical mutation into haplogroups- sometimes geographically or ethnically specific.


Another DNA found in each nucleus of the cells in a human’s body is the Y-DNA. This DNA is organized into twenty-three pairs of chromosomes: one set of twenty-three chromosomes inherit from the father and the other twenty-three chromosomes from the mother.

One of these chromosome pairs constitutes a person’s sex chromosomes. A biologically male individual inherits a Y-chromosome from his father and an X-chromosome from his mothers. This meant that his father inherited a copy of the same Y-chromosomes from his father who inherited it from his father and so on.

Since Y-DNA represents a male’s direct-line paternal ancestry. It can be used to address the question of share paternal ancestry. If two individuals share Y-DNA, it means that they share a common direct-line paternal ancestor.

However, like the mtDNA, there may be occasional mutations in Y-DNA resulting in different haplogroups which are again, sometimes geographical or ethnically specific.


Both Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA follow a historical journey from ancestors to the generation of the present day. It is so surprising then that they could offer great insights into the meaning of DNA and aid in solving genealogical mysteries.

Because of the universal, uniform, independent, and mutual nature of genetic inheritance, any genetic journey is extremely useful for tracing corresponding genealogical journeys.  

If you have any genetic genealogy mystery that you would need help resolving. Contact Legacy Tree Genealogist! Our team of professionals will help guide you and find the answers you need.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *