Mitochondria: Structure and Function
Next Generation: MS.LS1.2 MS.LS1.2

Mitochondria: Structure and Function


This lesson will describe the structure and function of a cell's mitochondria.

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Source: Images and Video Created by Amanda Soderlind

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In this lesson today, we will be discussing the structure and function of the mitochondria. So the mitochondria is a cellular organelle found in eukaryotic cells. So eukaryotic cells are cells that contain a nucleus, such as our cells, for example. So our cells contain mitochondria.

And mitochondria are oftentimes described as the powerhouse of the cell. So what this means is that they're the place in the cell where energy is made. So they're the sight of ATP production. ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate, and this is basically an energy storage molecule produced by cells for cells to carry out their normal functions. So they need some sort of energy to power the cell. So the mitochondria is called the powerhouse of the cell because it is the place where ATP energy is made.

And this ATP energy is made through a process called cellular respiration. So this process called cellular respiration is what occurs in order for ATP to be made. And cellular respiration actually has three phases associated with it. There's glycolysis, which is a phase of cellular respiration that happens in the cytoplasm. So glycolysis happens in the cytoplasm to make ATP for the cell.

But the two other phases of cellular respiration occur in the mitochondria. And those phases are the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain. ETC stands for the electron transport chain. So these are the three phases of cellular respiration, which produce a ATP for the cell. And the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain occur in the mitochondria.

So the mitochondria is composed of inner and outer membranes. So our inner membrane is on the inside here, and our outer membrane is out here. So it's got this double-layer membrane. And ATP production actually occurs in the inner membrane, so within the inner membrane in here. So it's got this membrane that kind of curves around inside, which produces more surface area within the mitochondria. So this lesson has been an overview on the structure and function of the mitochondria.

  • Mitochondria

    An organelle found inside cells that produces energy in the form of ATP

  • ATP

    A molecule that is used inside cells as a source of energy

  • Cellular Respiration

    A process that converts organic molecules into energy in the form of ATP