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Mitochondria the Powerhouse of the Cell: What does it really mean?

Updated: 7 days ago

You have certainly heard the phrase "the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell," but without any biology training, do you really know what that means? Through cellular respiration, the mitochondrion is able to produce energy from the food. This energy, or adenosine triphosphate, for a more professional name, is necessary for most of a cell's processes. No other organelle in a cell is able to produce energy from food, making this organelle vital to the cell.


ATP produced by the mitochondria is used to transport vital molecules across the cellular membrane. This membrane consists of a phospholipid bilayer, which is amphipathic or both polar and nonpolar. The phospholipids have a hydrophilic head and hydrophobic tails. This cellular membrane has a concentration gradient. Without the input of energy, molecules can only be diffused through the membrane if they are moving from a high to a low concentration. In order for molecules to move against this concentration gradient, energy must be used for active transport. Many sugars and amino acids rely on ATP for active transport. Sugars are food, whereas amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, both essential for the human body.

ATP is also used as the primary energy source for homeostasis. Homeostasis, according to the National Library of Medicine, is the "self-regulating process by which biological systems maintain stability while adjusting to changing external conditions." Because of this process both body temperature and blood sugar are able to be regulated. Humans are able to maintain stable conditions because of this process.

ATP is also used for a cell's growth. During DNA replication, DNA polymerase uses ATP to add new nucleotides to a new strand of DNA. DNA replication is used in cell division, which increases the number of cells. Cellular division produces two daughter cells from one parent's cells, doubling the number of cells.

This organelle may be small, but it is mighty. You can count on this organelle to help you grow and maintain healthy conditions. The next time someone tells you that the " "mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell," you will be able to explain why.

Works Cited:

Home.” PubMed Central (PMC),

Enomoto, Takemi, et al. “ATP Requirement for the Processes of DNA Replication in Isolated HeLa Cell Nuclei1.” Journal of Biochemistry/˜the œJournal of Biochemistry, vol. 89, no. 3, Jan. 1981, pp. 801–07.

“Mitochondria: Definition, Structure and Function (with Diagram).” Sciencing, 8 Jan. 2020,


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