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What is mitochondrial inheritance?

The majority of genetic material is organized into chromosomes within the cell nucleus; however, mitochondria, the cell organelles that produce energy to be used in metabolism, also contain a small amount of DNA, known as mitochondrial DNA. Alterations in genetic material within the mitochondria are the cause for some diseases, which are transmitted following a characteristic pattern, since mitochondria are only inherited from the mother. All sons and daughters of an affected woman will inherit the mitochondria with the mutation and develop the disease, while none of the children of an affected man will inherit the alteration or suffer from the disease.