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What is the Function of the Mitochondria

The Mitochondria is an organelle (specialized substructure within a cell) that is most often described as the “power house” of a cell. Mitochondria are very small organelles that have two membranes, an outer smooth membrane and an inner folded membrane. The folds in the inner membrane are called the cristea. These increase the surface area of the Mitochondria and allow it to work more efficiently. Mitochondria are able to reproduce and create their own proteins and are found in all eukaryotic cells. So what do these amazing little substructures do? Read this article to find out.

What is the function of the mitochondria?
The mitochondria is the organelle that supplies the cell with energy. In cells that require a lot of energy, such as muscle cells, there are many mitochondria. Other types of cells such as those that send nerve impulses will have few mitochondria. The main function of the mitochondria is to produce energy through a process known as the citric acid cycle, or the Krebs cycle. The Mitochondria absorbs the nutrients, such as glucose and pyruvate, within the cell though its phospholipid bilayer and oxidizes them to create a substance called ATP (Adenosine-5′-triphosphate). ATP is used as a chemical energy source within the cell.

Other functions of the mitochondria
Calcium ion storage- Mitochondria will store the excess calcium ions within the cell to help the cell maintain the correct levels of calcium.
Heat production- In babies and infants mitochondria are able to perform proton leak or mitochondrial uncoupling using brown adipose tissue, also called brown fat, to produce heat within the cell.
Specialized functions – Some mitochondria have specialized functions depending on the type of cell they are part of. For example, mitochondria in liver cells are able to detoxify ammonia.

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