A microbody is a type of organelle that is found in both plant and animal cells. The organelles in the microbody family include peroxisomes, glyoxysomes, glycosomes, and hydrogenosomes. In vertebrates, microbodies are especially prevalent in the liver and kidney organs.
A microbody is usually a vesicle with a spherical shape, ranging from 0.2-1.5 micrometres in diameter. The microbodies are found in the cytoplasm of a cell, but they are only visible with the help of an electron microscope.
They are surrounded by a single phospholipid bilayer membrane and they contain a matrix of intracellular material including enzymes and other proteins, but they do not seem to contain any genetic material to allow them to self-replicate.
Microbodies contain enzymes that participate in the preparatory or intermediate stages of biochemical reactions within the cell. This facilitates the breakdown of fats, alcohols and amino acids. Generally, microbodies are involved in detoxification of peroxides and in photorespiration in plants.
Different types of microbodies have different functions:
A peroxisome is a type of microbody that functions to help the body break down large molecules and detoxify hazardous substances. Glyoxysomes are specialized peroxisomes found in plants and mold, which help to convert stored lipids into carbohydrates so that they can be used for plant growth.
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