SUMMARY OF FIVE ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCES BEWTEEN MITOCHONDRIAL AND NUCLEAR DNA
Nuclear DNA is found in the nucleus of the cell and makes up the 46 chromosomes typically thought of as the genetic code. Every person and animal inherits half of their nuclear DNA from their mother and half from their father. Mitochondrial DNA is found in the mitochondria, the energy generating cell organelles. Mitochondria have their own complete genetic code unrelated to nuclear DNA. Mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from the mother.
Nuclear DNA testing is used to search for diseases on chromosomes, to compare DNA from two or more individuals in circumstances such as paternity testing and for research related to entire genomes. Mitochondrial DNA testing is more limited, due to mitochondria's comparatively fewer genes. It is used for seeking out diseases of the mitochondria and comparing maternal lines of descent.
Because Nuclear DNA is made up of many genes, the area to be tested must be narrowed down before performing the DNA test. Mitochondrial DNA testing is limited - it can only get information about the individual's maternal line.
Mitochondrial DNA is circular whereas Nuclear DNA is linear. (Both are double stranded)
Nuclear DNA is diploid, whereas Mitochondrial DNA exists in a state of ploidy. Nearly each cell in an animal’s body contains numerous mitochondria organelles, each of which harbours multiple Mitochondrial DNA molecules. These mitochondrial DNA molecules can differ from one another within a single mitochondrion, cell, or individual- a state referred to as heteroplasmy.