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Mitochondria and Chloroplast Essay

May 11, 2000 576 Words
I. Introduction

Out of all the organelles there
are two that have fascinated microbiologists for the past hundred years. The first is the mitochondria, nicknamed the "powerhouse of the cell." The second is the chloroplast in plant cells that have functions similar to those of the mitochondria. What do these organelles do? What are the similarities and differences of these organelles? This essay will help you to understand these two fascinating organelles.

II. Mitochondria

Mitochondria are small cytoplasmic organelles.
They are five to 10 micrometers long and one to .5 micrometers wide. They main function is to provide energy for cell activities. They house the respiratory enzymes that convert oxygen and the products of fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and guanosine triphosphate (GTP), chemicals that have high-energy bonds. They are hollow all except for a folded line of matter that contains the ribonucleic acid (RNA) or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of the cell.

Mitochondrion make use of a process known as oxidation
to make fat acids and pyruvate acid into (indirectly) ATP and Pi (inorganic phosphate). The process goes as follows:

1) Oxidation of pyruvate acid
into acetyl coenzyme A.
2) Oxidation of fat acids into acetyl coenzyme A.
of acetyl coenzymes from step one and two into CO2 and NADH2. 4) Oxidation
of NADH2 by oxygen forming water.
5) Synthesis of ATP coupled to NADH2 oxidation
by process of oxidative phosphorylation.

Most of this is self explanatory
except for the last step (5). The final step contains a phrase "coupled to." This means that the compound (NADH2) must be present and have been oxidized for the synthesis of ATP, similar to a catalyst's presence of some reactions.

the mitochondrion's major purpose is to supply the cell with the much needed ATP, it has others. Included in this list are nitrogen metabolism, porphyrin synthesis and steroid hormone synthesis.

III. Chloroplasts

are complicated green organelles that occur within the cytoplasm of plant cells. They are the main sites of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the change of light energy, CO2 water into sugar which is used as food. They are disk shaped organelles and are surrounded by two layers of membrane that enclose the watery inside or stroma. Inside the stroma there are green dots called grana (grains) that hold chlorophyll.

As with the mitochondrion the Chloroplasts use radiant
or solar energy to make a product. In this case hexose.

1) The pigment complexes
in the chloroplasts (including but not limited to chlorophyll) collect solar energy.
2) The light energy gathered in the first step is used to run an electron transport chain that oxidizes water into 0xygen. NADP is reduced. 3) ATP
synthesis is coupled to the electron transport train.
4) Carbon dioxide is
fixed and converted to hexose. This process requires ATP and the reduced NADP created in step three and two respectively.

IV. Conclusion

Both the
mitochondria and the chloroplasts have complex purposes in the cell. This first as the powerhouse that creates energy for cell activities. The second, chloroplasts which produce food that is used to power the cell. These procedures are facinating and more could be learned if time would allow it.


Genes and Organelles. Sager, Ruth. 1972. London.

Genetics and Biogenesis
of Chloroplasts and Mitochondria. Bücher, Th. . 1976. Amsterdan.

Chloroplasts and Bacterial Membranes. Prebble, J N. 1981. New York.

in Enzymology. Volume 207. Rudy Benardo. 1992. San Diego.

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