MITOCHONDRIA : MORE THAN JUST THE POWERHOUSE OF THE CELL
It's super annoying that the Internet has turned mitochondria into a joke about how useless science education is. Everyone should ACTUALLY be amazed by mitochondria, and here's why.
- •The mitochondria in your cells are the descendants of free living bacteriaAn ancient cell engulfed a bacterium, and that bacterium stayed inside the cell making energy and reproducing, making our modern cells possible
- •They have their own DNAMitochondrial genomes are useful in not only evolutionary research, but also in forensic science
- •The protein that makes ATP, the energy source of the cell, is essentially a wheel. It spins at over 200 mphAnd there are zillions of these in every cell of your body
- •Mitochondria can make networks with each other, connecting hundreds together into a continuous compartmentThe classic bean shaped organelle isn't always accurate. Learning about how they fuse together and break apart has huge implications for human disease.
- •They link electric gradients, metabolism, and cell signaling all into one placeMaintaining electric charge, creating fuel for your body, and telling the cell what it should be doing is a huge amount of work for one tiny compartment. But the mito manages.
- •Mitochondria can be very different depending on what type of cell they are inThe mitochondria in heart tissue are very different from mitochondria in a fat cell, for example. Red blood cells don't contain any mitochondria at all.
- •The evolution of complex life that we see around us every day would be impossible without the acquisition of mitochondriaRead Nick Lane's book Power, Sex, Suicide for more on this.