The Mitochondria are structures or ‘Organelles’ found inside cells.
They are termed the ‘Powerhouse’ of the cell because they generate energy in order for the cell to be able to carry out its functions.
The process of energy generation is called ‘Cellular Respiration’ and involves a chemical reaction known as ‘Oxidative Phosphorylation’.  Oxidative Phosphorylation occurs on the surface of the inner membrane of the mitochondrion.
Cells which use a lot of energy, e.g. Muscle Cells have a lot more mitochondria than cells which do not require a lot of energy, e.g. Fat Cells.

The Structure of Mitochondria
The mitochondrion has two membranes, an inner membrane and an outer membrane.
The outer membrane is smooth but the inner membrane is folded – this means that there is more space (a larger surface area) for Oxidative Phosphorylation to take place.
These folds are known as ‘cristae‘.

Parts of the Mitcohondrion

Also inside the mitochondria are ribosomes (another organelle also found around the cell itself) and a ring of Mitochondrial DNA.

For interest: the mitochondrial DNA shows many similarities to bacterial DNA and differs from the DNA found in the cell’s own nucleus.  It is thought that, in evolutionary terms, mitochondria may have started out as independent creatures which set up a mutually beneficial relationship with cells of more complex organisms such as animals and plants.

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Comments
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