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SURFACE AREA AND ITS IMPACT ON BIOLOGY

Mitochondria














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WHAT IS A MITOCHONDRIA ?

Mitochondria provide the energy a cell needs to move, divide and produce waste products; they are the power centers of the cell. They are about the size of bacteria but may have different shapes depending on the cell type.

 
 
 
 
 
WHAT IS THE STRUCTURE OF A MITOCHONDRIA ?

Shown here are 3D reconstructions of rat-liver mitochondria obtained by high-voltage (1000 kV) electron tomography at the Wadsworth Center's Biological Microscopy and Image Reconstruction Resource (Albany, NY).

cluster.jpg

This is a cluster of 14 mitochondria (yellow) in the vicinity of a multilayered stack of endoplasmic reticulum (blue-green). The close proximity between mitochondrial and ER membranes may be important for regulation of cellular Ca++ levels. 






 
 
 
 
Mitochondria are membrane-bound organelles, and like the nucleus have a double membrane. The outer membrane is fairly smooth. But the inner membrane is highly convoluted, forming folds called cristae. The cristae greatly increase the inner membrane's surface area. It is on these cristae that food (glucose) is combined with oxygen to produce ATP - the primary energy source for the cell.
 
 
 
 

mito1.jpg

This is a look inside an isolated mitochondrion, showing the outer membrane (OM), inner peripheral membrane (IM), and some of the internal compartments called cristae (C) formed by infolding of the inner membrane. Arrows point to narrow tubular regions of the IM that connect cristae to periphery and to each other.




























WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SURFACE AREA IN  A MITOCHONDRIA ?

Surface area is very important in mitochondria because it increases the rate of a chemical reaction that produces ATP energy. This is the reason why mitochondria have an outer membrane, inner membrane and criste.