Recombination in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) remains a controversial topic. Here we present a survey of 279 animal mtDNA data sets, of which 12 were from asexual species. Using four separate tests, we show that there is widespread evidence of recombination; for one test as many as 14.2% of the data sets reject a model of clonal inheritance and in several data sets, including primates, the recombinants can be identified visually. We show that none of the tests give significant results for obligate clonal species (apomictic pathogens) and that the sexual species show significantly greater evidence of recombination than asexual species. For some data sets, such as Macaca nemestrina, additional data sets suggest that the recombinants are not artifacts. For others, it cannot be determined whether the recombinants are real or produced by laboratory error. Either way, the results have important implications for how mtDNA is sequenced and used.
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