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How does the mitochondria benefit the cell?

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Cellular respiration occurs in the mitochondria of eukaryotic cells. Cellular respiration is the process by which the sugar called glucose is used within an organism. There are three main phases of cellular respiration. Each phase utilizes a different part of the mitochondria. Overall, cellular respiration is the process by which glucose and oxygen are used to make carbon dioxide, water, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Adenosine triphosphate is an energy source utilized by cells. Therefore, the mitochondria benefit the cell because it makes energy for the cell in the form of adenosine triphosphate. For this reason, the mitochondria are sometimes referred to as the "powerhouses" of a cell. Without the mitochondria, the cell would not have enough energy to perform many of the basic functions that are required to maintain homeostasis and stay alive.


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Mitochondria generate energy for cells by converting oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a molecule that is able to store energy for cells to use. The production of ATP using oxygen in mitochondria is about fifteen times greater than the production of ATP without oxygen outside of the mitochondria. Without the mitochondria, cells would probably not be able to generate enough ATP to function.

The number of mitochondria in a cell depends on how much energy the cell needs to function. A cell may contain one large mitochondria or thousands of mitochondria. 

Mitochondria contain their own DNA. This is thought to have originated when smaller prokaryotes were engulfed by larger prokaryotes. Over time, a symbiotic relationship developed where the smaller prokaryote provided energy for the larger prokaryote. Eventually, the larger prokaryotes evolved into a eukaryotic cell, while the smaller prokaryotes evolved into mitochondria.

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