Introducing Mitochondrial DNA Sequencing from AlphaBiolabs

Introducing Mitochondrial DNA Sequencing from AlphaBiolabs

AlphaBiolabs has expanded its offering with the addition of Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Sequencing for research institutes, universities, and governments worldwide.

The introduction of the service marks the first time AlphaBiolabs has offered mtDNA analysis direct from its UK laboratory.

Sequencing of mtDNA is most useful in circumstances where the DNA sample is extremely old or degraded, enabling the extraction of a DNA profile from some of the most challenging samples.

This type of DNA sequencing might be required when working with:

  • Aged or damaged bones and teeth
  • Chemically damaged or charred remains
  • Low concentration samples
  • Aged body fluid stains
  • Hair shafts

What is mtDNA?

Mitochondrial DNA in humans is passed down through the maternal line, meaning that related individuals will share mtDNA with their maternal relatives including brothers, sisters, maternal grandmothers, aunts, and uncles.

Although there are vast differences in mtDNA between unrelated individuals, it is nearly identical between people who are closely related.

This makes it an extremely powerful tool in human rights cases, where individuals have been separated from their families, or where there are few surviving relatives with which to perform a DNA test.

Unlike nuclear DNA, which is linear, and made up of 3.3 billion DNA base pairs, mitochondria contain an independent, circular genome, with much fewer DNA base pairs (16,569 to be exact).

Each eukaryotic cell contains 100-10,000 copies of mtDNA: a much higher copy number in comparison to nuclear DNA. This high copy number means that mtDNA is abundant even in limited or degraded samples meaning mtDNA analysis is often successful in cases where nuclear DNA analysis has failed.

Due to its circular structure mtDNA is less prone to both environmental and enzymatic degradation than nuclear DNA and is therefore more stable over time so can be utilised in ancient samples.

Additionally, mtDNA makes it possible to trace a person’s matrilineal (maternal) ancestry for the purposes of building a family tree.

To verify a biological relationship between males or trace paternal ancestry, Y chromosome (Y-DNA) testing can be used.  

Application of mtDNA Sequencing

AlphaBiolabs’ mtDNA Sequencing provides research institutes and government bodies with reliable data that can be used for a range of projects, removing the need to invest in expensive instruments and kits that would only be used sporadically.

Research applications for mtDNA studies include:

  • Anthropology
  • Phylogenetics
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Clinical/disease research
  • Forensic genomics
  • Ancient DNA studies

In November 2021, prior to adding mtDNA Sequencing to our portfolio, AlphaBiolabs performed an mtDNA study in partnership with two research institutions to ensure high quality data could be obtained using our kits.

Each institution supplied a sample which had been extracted, quantified, and shipped to AlphaBiolabs’ DNA laboratory.

Once the samples were received, our DNA scientists carried out sample preparation and Next Generation Sequencing (also known as Massively Parallel Sequencing) and evaluated the data obtained.

This data was then shared with each institution that provided samples. Upon receipt of the data, one of the institutions informed us that one of the most degraded samples which had yielded a whole-genome profile was 10,000 years old.

Order mtDNA Sequencing for research

By submitting your samples to an accredited DNA testing laboratory, you can be assured of receiving high quality, informative data from even the most ancient and degraded DNA samples.

If you’d like to learn more about our mtDNA Sequencing or request a quote, visit this page or contact our Customer Services team by calling 0333 600 1300 or emailing