Mitochondria Structure: Cristae, Matrix and Inner & Outer Membrane

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  • 0:05 Chemical Energy from…
  • 1:40 Structures of Mitochondria
  • 3:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kristin Klucevsek

Kristin has taught college Biology courses and has her doctorate in Biology.

If you want to make it through the day, you're going to need some energy. In this lesson, we'll learn about the organelle that supplies this energy, the mitochondrion, and why this cell structure appreciates the time you took to eat breakfast this morning!

Chemical Energy from Mitochondria

Your mother always told you to eat your breakfast. Breakfast is the meal of champions! It's the right way to start your day when you wake up hungry, giving you the energy you need to tackle all your to-do lists. But while you're feeding yourself, did you know you're also feeding your cells?

Your cells might not have the taste buds to appreciate the authentic Vermont maple syrup you put on your pancakes this morning, but they do appreciate the sugar. The cells in your body use the food you eat as a way to get the energy they need to get through the day. They do this through cellular respiration, a process that converts food into usable chemical energy in your cells.

Does your cell eat pancakes? Not exactly, but once the food is broken down by your digestive system, molecules from the food are transported to your cells for use. Many cells, including those in animals, fungi, and plants, contain mitochondria. Mitochondria are membrane-bound structures where cellular respiration occurs. Mitochondria is the plural form of the word mitochondrion. In these mitochondria, molecules from your pancakes are used to create chemical energy that your cells can then use to perform different activities in its daily routine. For example, chemical energy allows active transport of molecules against a concentration gradient in the cell membrane.

Mitochondria are found in many types of animal and plant cells.
Mitochondria in Cell

A cell can have one to thousands of mitochondria depending on how much energy it needs. A cell in your biceps, for example, needs a lot of energy to pump iron and would have more mitochondria than a cell in your skin. You can fit a lot of mitochondria in one cell because they're small, about the size of a bacterium. Bacteria, by the way, do not have mitochondria for reasons that we'll talk about in other lessons.

Structure of Mitochondria

Mitochondria are composed of two membranes; both are phospholipid bilayers like the membrane around the cell. The outer membrane is a selectively permeable membrane that surrounds the mitochondria. This membrane comes complete with integral membrane proteins and pores for transporting molecules, just like the cell membrane.

The membranes of the mitochondria
Mitochondria Membrane

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