I have this excerpt of text from a scientific paper:

... such as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA; maternally inherited) or non-recombining regions of Y-chromosomal DNA (paternally inherited), ...

Where I want to specify the inheritance of the two types of DNA I mention, but I also need to clarify the abbreviation of mitochondrial DNA to mtDNA as it is it's first mention within the text.

Is there a standard, grammatically correct way of separating 'mtDNA' and 'maternally inherited' in the parenthesis? I have tentatively settled on:

(mtDNA; maternally inherited)

But I'm not sure if this (or indeed any other way) would be preferred:

(mtDNA, maternally inherited)

1 Answer 1


I think it is quite clear the way you have phrased it, but if you want to skip the two items in one parenthesis, you can simply reword it as

... such as the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or the paternally inherited non-recombining regions of Y-chromosomal DNA, ...

maybe making its own parenthetical blocks with em dashes

... such as the —maternally inherited— mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or the —paternally inherited— non-recombining regions of Y-chromosomal DNA, ...

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