Welcome! We are glad you have joined us for a journey inside a eukaryotic cell to the mitochondria. Located in the cytoplasm of the cell, the mitochondria is an organelle that is all about creating energy for a cell – it is the site of the cell frequently termed “an engine” or “power house”. Visible in the electron micrographic image of mitochondria is an outer double membrane and the inner member with numerous folds – a design that enhances the surface area where the processes of cellular respiration occur. There is a lot to learn about mitochondria (including their genetic material) but for now – the next time you are running to catch a bus and need lots of energy to make your muscles work faster – remember your mitochondria. They are an essential site for providing energy to each cell in your body!
This image was colored in the University of Pittsburgh colors of blue and gold. This tissue section was obtained from mouse kidney tissue and the blue background in the image demonstrates the cell cytoplasm while the brown looking “potatoes” are the mitochondria. This image was obtained using Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) that uses electrons to make differences in the structure visible in great detail and allows us to see very small objects. This mitochondria sample was photographed at a magnification of 55,000 nm. In the corner of the image is a sample bar; similar to one you will find in a map, that shows what a distance of 500 nm represents. The use of a software program called Adobe Photoshop was used to artistically color the mitochondria that by TEM are actually seen in a range of color from white to black.
This image was generously provided by the Center for Biologic Imaging (CBI) at the University of Pittsburgh.
Read more about the Mystery Photo Feature.
To learn more about mitochondria try a web search on: mitochondria and science education.
Mitochondria in Action
Mitochondria, contrary to popular perception are highly dynamic organelles, constantly fusing and fissioning within the living cell. The importance of this process to the health and development of the cell is still not understood, however it is becoming increasingly clear that maintaining mitochondrial health is fundamental to maintaining a normal cellular homeostasis. Deviation from this results in faulty cell division, apoptotic cell death and aberrant development.