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Description of its function and how it has evolved to be adapted to that


It is a eukaryotic cell, which means that it has organelles within the membrane of
the cell (for example, the mitochondria has ribosome and circular DNA molecules)
The mitochondria are where respiration takes place; it is where the energy needed
by the cell to function is converted. Energy is released in the form of ATP (adenosine
triphosphate). This is needed for cellular activity
Food is digested and the molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream and
sent to the cells where they are taken by the mitochondria
Mitochondria also have ETC (electron transport chain) these oxidise the
sugars to produce ATP
ETC: the electron transfer between an electron donor and an electron
accepter with H plus ions being passed across the membrane. This then
creates an electrochemical proton gradient which then brings chemical
energy in the form of ATP
The mitochondria is also involved in other cellular activities such as cell growth,
division and death
There is a high concentration of enzymes in the mitochondrial matrix much of
cellular respiration occurs here
It is semi autonomous, which means it only partially depends on the cell. It has its
own DNA (thus can multiply through a process called fission), its own proteins and
It has a double membrane:
The outer membrane is smooth whereas the inner membrane is made up of
many folds (called cristae)
Each membrane is a phospholopid bilayer (it is made up of two layers of
lipid molecules)
Both membranes have protein embedded onto the surface
The folds inside cause the structure to become wrinkled yet this increases
the amount of surface area available for respiration to occur on (thus making
it more effective)

When and how it was discovered? And how has it changed our understanding
of the cell?

The name mitochondria was given by Carl Benda in 1989, yet the first
intercellular structures somewhat resembling the mitochondria had already been
acknowledged in the 1840s. Richard Altmann identifies them but names them
However the discovery of mitochondria and the information that we have today
is not only the work of one scientist, but many through the years. For example,
Benjamin Kingsbury, in 1912, linked them to cellular respiration
Research has shown that it could have came from a theory called
endosymbiosis. This is the theory that mitochondria was once a free living
organism (similar to a bacteria) that was able to thrive via aerobic respiration.
The theory goes on to suggest that the mitochondria were engulfed by larger

anaerobic cells who used the energy generated by the mitochondria. Over
millions of years, the mitochondria have evolved to become more adapted to be
effective and has also built a relationship with the larger host cell so that one
cannot live without the other (this is the same with chloroplasts)

Description of its function and how it has evolved to be adapted to that

The nucleus job is to monitor the ongoing cell activity and it does this by regulating
the enzymes (made of protein_
The chromatin (made up of heterochromatic and euchromatin when the cell is
resting, the chromosomes lay themselves out in tangled structures this is called
the chromatin) is made up of DNA (which has the coding to produce proteins)
DNA is made out of four bases (adenine, thymine, guanine and cytocine). The
specific pattern of these bases is what instructs the cell in what order to lay out the
amino acids
The cell has a nucleolus, which is where RNA (ribonucleic acid) is made
The cell nucleus is able to produce protein via replication (DNA is copied); and the
RNA is also used to order the amino acids to make a protein molecule and
1. A working copy of the DNA is made. This copy is called mRNA
(messenger RNA)
2. Transcription is carried out by an enzyme called RNA polymerase
3. The enzyme binds itself to the DNA at a promoter (a specific pattern of a
4. Unbinds and unwinds the double helix and uses one of strands to make a
copy until it reaches an end (stop codon)
The cell nucleus is bound by a double membrane which allows the content of the
cytoplasm and the nucleus to stay separate. In addition, the double membrane
allows the nucleus to retain its shape and the constant movement of molecules in
and out of the nucleus
The nucleolus has nucleolar organisers: this is information in the chromosome which
can code to synthesize ribosome. Protein and ribosome are also present within the

When and how it was discovered? And how has it changed our understanding
of the cell?

Robert Brown is thought to be the founder of the cell nucleus. The term cell
nucleus was used in a paper Brown had written to the Linnean Society, this paper
was later published in 1933.
Brown recognizes an opaque spot within the cell, many scientists before had
acknowledged it but did not go into any more further research. Brown observes that

the opaque spot appears during the early stages of pollen formation and proceeds
by naming this spot, the nucleus. He suggests that the nucleus plays a vital role as
it appears quite early during the developing stages of the embryo. This idea
suggests that the nucleus is at the heart of cellular creation
Brown also gives credit to another scientist, Franz Bauer, who was a botanist and
had also made similar observations