Mitochondria, the plural of mitochondrion, are organelles which function as the powerhouse of the cell. The Krebs Cycle takes place in it, producing ATP.

They are oval, look like little pills, but have a large surface area within by its many folds to carry out cellular respiration and combine oxygen with food to get energy and utilitze ATP-ADP reactions.A cell typically has dozens of them, and muscle and heart cells have thousands of them.

Scientists suspect that mitochondria were once small microorganisms about 3.5 billion years ago and were absorbed into mammal cells and became symbiotes. This explains why they have their own 37 genes of DNA.

What makes them so special today is that they actually have their own set of mitochondrial DNA, inherited from the mother's mitochondria. This is sort of complicated, and still partly theory, but the sperm and egg have their own mitochondria. When they combine, the egg gives off an enzyme to degrade the male mitochondria. (see targeting sperm mitochondria for destruction) In some cases the male mitochondria is present, and may be responsible for many diseases where the mitochondria are faulty. fautly Mitochondria DNA can deprive the nucleus of energy and lead to cancer and other diseases.

In 1988, Dr. Wallace and Dr. Emory Brown made history when they discovered a genetic mitochondrial disease passed from mother to son. Known as Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), the condition is marked by rapid vision loss, heart rhythm abnormalities, dementia, epilepsy, and intermittent spastic muscle action. It usually strikes males between 20 and 24 and is invariably fatal.

The last paragraph taken from Newsday August 15, 2000