The Inside Story of Mitochondria

FUTURA / Dec 2017

Around a billion years ago, a cell captured a nearby bacterium, enveloping it completely. Once inside, the bacterium became a survival advantage, helping the cell to generate energy from oxygen. The cell divided, and within it the bacterium divided as well, and that happened again and again, and a whole host of cells were born, all containing these little helpers. Over the eons, though, the new organelle – today known as the mitochondrion – lost some of its genes entirely. In some organisms, mitochondria grew so large that they almost took over the cells’ interiors. In others, mitochondria shrunk and nearly disappeared – or, in at least one case, disappeared entirely. And in all cases, mitochondria – with their own distinct DNA from the rest of the cell – evolved different ways of doing things than the rest of the cell… Read more in the Winter 2017 issue of FUTURA.