What is the function of mitochondria

The Mitochondrion (mitochondria plural) is a rod-shaped organelle that is functions as the cells’ power generator that converts oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate or ATP. ATP is the chemical energy of the cell that powers all the metabolic activities of the cell. Such process is referred as aerobic respiration and is the reason behind the breathing of oxygen of animals. Without the function of mitochondria organelle, there will be no existence of higher animals because their cells would only be able to get energy from anaerobic respiration, which is the absence of oxygen, and a process that is less efficient that aerobic respiration. Since humans and other large animals need greater amount of energy in order to survive, mitochondria enable cells to produce 15 times more ATP than they could without.

The number of mitochondria in cells depends on the metabolic requirements of that cell, as this can range from a single large mitochondrion to thousands of mitochondria in a single cell. Mitochondria are found in nearly all eukaryotes such as animals, plants, protists and fungi. It is large enough to be seen with the use of light microscope, and was first discovered in the 1800’s.

Structure of Mitochondria

The elaborated structure of mitochondria is vital to the functioning of the organelle. It is generally an oblong organelle, with size that range from one to ten micrometers in length and occur in numbers that correlate directly with the level of metabolic activity of the cell. Mitochondrion organelle is quite flexible and can change its shape rapidly while constantly moving about in the cell. This organelle is very different from other organelles due to the fact that it has its own circular DNA that is almost similar to the DNA of prokaryotes, and can also independently reproduce in the cell in which it is found –an apparent case of endosymbiosis.

The mitochondrial DNA is restricted to the matrix that also contains a host of enzymes and ribosomes needed for protein synthesis. Several of the critical metabolic steps of cellular respiration are being catalyzed by the enzymes that can diffuse through the mitochondrial matrix. The enzyme that generates ATP and other proteins that are involved in respiration are embedded within the inner membrane of the mitochondrion. The cristae’s enfolding is can dramatically increase the surface area, which is available for the hosting of enzymes responsible for cellular respiration.

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