Question: What is a Mitochondrian?


  1. Hey pnemo. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. it is an organelle, part of the cells machinery, that is responsible for generating cellular energy (through the TCA cycle and the electron transport chain). It exists in different amounts in cell, depending on the needs of the cell. For example, in slow twitch muscle cells (used for endurance events and also used in maintaining the everyday needs of the body) there are quite a few, where as in fast twitch muscle fibres (used for a speedy getaway, or a sprint) there are fewer mitochondria because the cells use a different process to get energy more quickly (glycolysis).


  2. Hi Pnemono

    Mitochondria are organelles found in most eukaryotes (multi-celled organisms). They are the power house of cells as they generate most of a cells chemical energy.

    It is thought that mitochondria as well as other organelles, originally existed as free living bacteria before being taken into another cell.

    One of the cool things about them is their role in determining ectothermic and endothermic organisms, or cold and warm blooded animals. Can you work out if it is the warm blooded or cold blooded that has more mitchondria


  3. Hi pnemo,
    Chris and Dustin have got this covered nicely.
    Mitochondria (which is the plural form of the word mitochondrion) are indeed the energy generating part (organelle) of the cell, and ‘organelle’ means ‘little organ’.
    Here’s another interesting fact for you about mitochondria: mitochondria replicate by splitting into two (just like cells – this is called ‘binary fission’). During embryonic and foetal development, all the mitochondria that develops in all the newly forming cells originally comes from the ovum (egg), because the mitochondria that comes from the sperm gets destroyed. This means that everyone inherits their mitochondria from their mother. Mitochondria have their own DNA (which is how they have been shown to be similar to some bacteria, like Dustin mentioned), so this ‘mitochondrial DNA’ can actually be used to trace your ancestry on your mother’s side! So siblings who have the same mum will have the same mitochondrial DNA, which is the same as what your mum has in all her cells, and what her mum has, and her mum, and her mum, and so on. Pretty cool, isn’t it? 🙂


  4. Well covered by the others.
    I especially want to highlight the importance of mitochondria being bacteria originally. Bacteria are wonderful 🙂