The hallmarks of animal mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are a rapid rate of sequence evolution, a small genome carrying the same set of homologous genes, maternal inheritance and lack of recombination. Over the past few years, a variety of different observations has challenged these accepted notions of mitochondrial biology. Notable examples include evidence for variable rates of mtDNA sequence evolution among taxa, evidence for large and variable mitochondrial genome sizes in certain groups, and a growing number of cases in metazoans of 'paternal leakage' in the inheritance of mtDNA. Several recent studies have uncovered different lines of evidence suggesting that an organism's thermal habit, or metabolic rate, can influence the evolution of mtDNA.
Copyright © 1994. Published by Elsevier Ltd.