Definition, Discovery, Importance and Function

Mitochondria which is likewise known as the powerhouses of the cell is subcellular, cylindrical organelles located in eukaryotes.

They have a major impact on body metabolism in people with autism and additionally play a role in each individual’s wellbeing as far as how our body produces energy.

What is Mitochondria?

Every living organism is created with a central brick which is the cell and the number of mitochondria in each cell could broadly change by tissue, organism, and cell type.

Mitochondria are organelles located in the cells of each complex organism. These organelles are shaped in a rod-like structure located in both plant and animal cells, and they create around 90% of the chemical energy which cells need in order to survive.

Although they do not just produce energy, they produce chemicals as well that the body system requires for different purposes such as breaking down wastes so that they would be less harmful, and also recycle some of the wastes to save energy.

It is composed of:

  • The Outer membrane
  • The Inner membrane
  • The Intermembrane space
  • The Cristae
  • The Matrix.

Function in a Cell

The primary function is the creation of ATP via cellular respiration. The mitochondria pick the nutrients of a cell and move them into energy through the form ATP. The higher energy a cell needs increases the number of mitochondria it would have. If a cell needs more energy than what is left, it can make more as required. Other functions include:

  1. Proteolytic activity: Mitochondria have proteolytic enzyme activity. Even in Protozoa, it exhibits both lytic and synthetic activity. In Amoeba, pieces of immersed food circulate in the cytoplasm and later they get related to mitochondria. This then shows that they are in charge of the creation of zymogen granules of the pancreas.
  2. Assist in safeguarding cell survival at the same time convenient to assist the progress of apoptosis when essential.
  3. It adds to breaking-down, synthesizing, and recycling bio-chemicals required for cell functioning.

Mitochondria are self-reproducing organelles. Reproduction happens, responding to physiological necessities.

They contain DNA, ribosomes and essential enzymes to maintain protein synthesis and synthesis of phospholipids as well as other little molecular weight constituents. 


The mitochondria are the main areas of your muscle cells where fat, carbohydrate, and protein could be broken down with oxygen to produce the energy needed to work.

They are essential for ocular function, representing the significant origin of a cell's supply of energy and as well taking up an important role in cell survival and differentiation.

They are not only vital in that aspect, but also in others which include:

  1. They are important for your lifespan: Are important for a lot of biological processes, so it is analytical that their extreme dysfunction is identified with untimely aging and death.
  2. Essential for fat loss: More mitochondria produce more energy from amino acids, glucose, and fat and because of this, consume more calories.
  3. An important factor to enhance your athletic performance: The highest limit to how quick you could run a specific distance, or whatever other physical exercises that needs perseverance, is the time it takes to create energy from oxygen and sugar in your exercising muscles. Acquiring more in your muscle cells would enhance their energy generation and with this, it boosts performance.
  4. Assists in maintaining your blood sugar levels: According to research, patients with type 2 diabetes have a diminished mitochondrial number, capacity, and biogenesis. In insulin creation, which happens in your pancreatic beta cells, assuming an essential role in maintaining the blood sugar levels.
  5. Perfectly working mitochondria avert heart disease: help in the regulation of cardiovascular cell function, an on the other side, mitochondrial dysfunction increases the danger of cardiovascular illness.

The Discovery of Mitochondria

Mitochondria were named by Carl Benda in 1898 from his study of cell internal structure and the first recorded information of mitochondria in plants in cells was created by Friedrich Meves in 1904.

In 1908, Friedrich Meves and Claudius Regaud showed that they contain lipids and proteins. However, there are two speculations about the its discovery: autogenous and endosymbiotic.

In the autogenous hypothesis, mitochondria were formed by separating a part of DNA from the nucleus of the eukaryotic cell at the period of branching out with the prokaryotes; this DNA segment would have been confined by membranes, that couldn’t be crossed by proteins.

The endosymbiotic shows that mitochondria were initially prokaryotic cells, perfect for executing oxidative components that were unrealistic for eukaryotic cells; they developed into endosymbionts residing in the eukaryote. Since mitochondria have a lot of characteristics similar to bacteria, the endosymbiotic hypothesis is generally accepted.

A major reason it is believed that mitochondria originated from bacteria is that despite everything, they contain a little amount of DNA which is like bacterial DNA and the mitochondrial DNA is around 16,000 bases in length and has 37 genes in individuals.

The Mitochondria's Job

Its primary job is to turn glucose into energy via cellular or aerobic respiration utilizing oxygen and water. This takes place when food is broken down into the smallest nutrients and molecules, and the air is taken in, the least molecules and nutrients move into the bloodstream.

These nutrients and molecules consist of glucose and oxygen. Since fire burns oxygen and emits water and carbon dioxide, mitochondria act like heaters when they turn glucose into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), they utilize oxygen and give off water and carbon dioxide.

Since the procedure utilizes oxygen, it is known to be aerobic. This chemical procedure of respiration happens in each cell, so it is known as aerobic cellular respiration. The steps that take place in this procedure are shown by the Krebs cycle or the tricarboxylic acid [TCA] cycle, and it is a foundation to knowing how cells function.

However, in plants, mitochondria work alongside chloroplasts to control ecological factors and make the genetic material. They work separately to produce functional energy for natural activity, alongside chloroplasts operating photosynthesis carrying out the final three stages of cellular respiration.

Microscopy's Role

The performance of the microscope in studying cells was a progress in technology. The microscope enabled the viewing of a cell out of the blue with a person’s eye. The light addition to the microscope created by Hooke enables the cell to be considerably more visible for additional study.

Not only that, the microscope plays other roles which are:

  • Introducing electron microscope and dyes took the study of cells much further. These innovations enabled scientists to differentiate one section of the cell from another. Scientists can not only see any imperfection or damage to the cell; they could also recognize the correct area inside the cell that was harmed or faulty.
  • Viewing organisms, both multi-cellular and unicellular. With the utilization of microscope, it is possible to see cells carry out their various activities, and also reproduce.
  • The microscope has improved the study of cells by enabling scientists to view the development of disease inside a cell. Once they could see the development of diseases, for example, cancer, he or she could endeavor to treat the cell. Making use of a microscope enables the scientist to study and evaluate the treatment and decide whether the treatment is successful.

See Also:  Ribosomes, Golgi Apparatus, Lysosomes

Return to Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes

Return to Cell Biology and Cell Staining

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