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Mitochondrial DNA variation in human radiation and disease.

ABSTRACT

Environmental adaptation, predisposition to common diseases, and, potentially, speciation may all be linked through the adaptive potential of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) alterations of bioenergetics. This Perspective synthesizes evidence that human mtDNA variants may be adaptive or deleterious depending on environmental context and proposes that the accrual of mtDNA variation could contribute to animal speciation via adaptation to marginal environments.