The Mitochondria

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Each mitochondrion is surrounded by two membranes, the inner of which is extensively folded into cristae and is the site of the intermembrane space. The mitochondrial matrix contains the mitochondrial DNA, ribosomes, and metabolic enzymes. The transmission electron micrograph of a mitochondrion, on the right, shows both membranes, including cristae and the mitochondrial matrix. (credit “micrograph”: modification of work by Matthew Britton; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

OpenStax Microbiology

The large, complex organelles in which aerobic cellular respiration occurs in eukaryotic cells are called mitochondria. The term “mitochondrion” was first coined by German microbiologist Carl Benda in 1898 and was later connected with the process of respiration by Otto Warburg in 1913. Scientists during the 1960s discovered that mitochondria have their own genome and 70S ribosomes. The mitochondrial genome was found to be bacterial, when it was sequenced in 1976. These findings ultimately supported the endosymbiotic theory proposed by Lynn Margulis, which states that mitochondria originally arose through an endosymbiotic event in which a bacterium capable of aerobic cellular respiration was taken up by phagocytosis into a host cell and remained as a viable intracellular component.

Each mitochondrion has two lipid membranes. The outer membrane is a remnant of the original host cell’s membrane structures. The inner membrane was derived from the bacterial plasma membrane. The electron transport chain for aerobic respiration uses integral proteins embedded in the inner membrane. The mitochondrial matrix, corresponding to the location of the original bacterium’s cytoplasm, is the current location of many metabolic enzymes. It also contains mitochondrial DNA and 70S ribosomes. Invaginations of the inner membrane, called cristae, evolved to increase surface area for the location of biochemical reactions. The folding patterns of the cristae differ among various types of eukaryotic cells and are used to distinguish different eukaryotic organisms from each other.

Source:

Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/microbiology

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