Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4396. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004396. Epub 2009 Feb 9.

Evidence for variation in the effective population size of animal mitochondrial DNA.

Author information

  • 1UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR 7628, MBCE, Observatoire Océanologique, Banyuls/mer, France.



It has recently been shown that levels of diversity in mitochondrial DNA are remarkably constant across animals of diverse census population sizes and ecologies, which has led to the suggestion that the effective population of mitochondrial DNA may be relatively constant.


Here we present several lines of evidence that suggest, to the contrary, that the effective population size of mtDNA does vary, and that the variation can be substantial. First, we show that levels of mitochondrial and nuclear diversity are correlated within all groups of animals we surveyed. Second, we show that the effectiveness of selection on non-synonymous mutations, as measured by the ratio of the numbers of non-synonymous and synonymous polymorphisms, is negatively correlated to levels of mitochondrial diversity. Finally, we estimate the effective population size of mitochondrial DNA in selected mammalian groups and show that it varies by at least an order of magnitude.


We conclude that there is variation in the effective population size of mitochondria. Furthermore we suggest that the relative constancy of DNA diversity may be due to a negative correlation between the effective population size and the mutation rate per generation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk