Which organelle is known as the powerhouse of the cell. Why?

Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouse of the cell.” The organelle that is responsible for the production of energy in a cell is the mitochondria. This is the most vital part of the cell as it takes the food and makes energy for the other parts of the cell.

Features of mitochondria

  • These cell organelles are found exclusively in eukaryotic cells.
  • Mitochondria is a double-membraned organelle with an intricate inner structure.
  • The inner layers are tightly folded to form structures called cristae.
  • These structures provide a large surface area for chemical reactions to occur.
  • Mitochondria produce energy through cellular respiration, more specifically aerobic respiration.
  • The function of the cell affects the amount of mitochondria present. For instance, muscle cells have more mitochondria as they require more energy; on the other hand, red blood cells move passively through the bloodstream. Hence they have no mitochondria.

Different types of cells have different numbers of mitochondria. For example, some simple cells contain only one or two mitochondria. However, complex animal cells that need a lot of energy, like muscle cells, can have thousands of mitochondria.

Why are the mitochondria called the powerhouse of a cell?

  • The function of mitochondria is to produce energy for the cell. Cells use a special molecule for energy called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Thus, Mitochondria are called the powerhouse of the cell.
  •  They are called so because they produce ATP, an energy-dense molecule responsible for powering most cellular processes in a living organism. When the cell needs more energy, the mitochondria can reproduce by growing larger and then dividing.
  • If the cell needs less energy, some mitochondria will die or become inactive.

Other vital functions of mitochondria

The other functions of mitochondria are listed below

  • Cellular metabolism
  • Producing heat in the body
  • Controlling the concentration of calcium
  • Producing specific steroids.


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