The Peroxisomes


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A transmission electron micrograph (left) of a cell containing a peroxisome. The illustration (right) shows the location of peroxisomes in a cell. These eukaryotic structures play a role in lipid biosynthesis and breaking down various molecules. They may also have other specialized functions depending on the cell type. (credit “micrograph”: modification of work by American Society for Microbiology)

Source: OpenStax Microbiology

OpenStax Microbiology

Christian de Duve is also credited with the discovery of peroxisomes, membrane-bound organelles that are not part of the endomembrane system. Peroxisomes form independently in the cytoplasm from the synthesis of peroxin proteins by free ribosomes and the incorporation of these peroxin proteins into existing peroxisomes. Growing peroxisomes then divide by a process similar to binary fission.

Peroxisomes were first named for their ability to produce hydrogen peroxide, a highly reactive molecule that helps to break down molecules such as uric acid, amino acids, and fatty acids. Peroxisomes also possess the enzyme catalase, which can degrade hydrogen peroxide. Along with the SER, peroxisomes also play a role in lipid biosynthesis. Like lysosomes, the compartmentalization of these degradative molecules within an organelle helps protect the cytoplasmic contents from unwanted damage.

The peroxisomes of certain organisms are specialized to meet their particular functional needs. For example, glyoxysomes are modified peroxisomes of yeasts and plant cells that perform several metabolic functions, including the production of sugar molecules. Similarly, glycosomes are modified peroxisomes made by certain trypanosomes, the pathogenic protozoans that cause Chagas disease and African sleeping sickness.


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