RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Illustration of a mitochondrion with part of it cut-away to show the internal structure. Spilling from the mitochondrion is a loop of mitochondrial DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), or mtDNA, the organelle's genetic material. Mitochondria are organelles found in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells. They oxidase sugars and fats to produce energy. A mitochondrion has two membranes, a smooth outer membrane and a folded inner membrane. The folds of the inner membrane are called cristae, and it is here that the chemical reactions to produce energy take place. Unlike other eukaryotic DNA, mtDNA is circular. Due to this it is thought that mitochondria were once free-living, but were incorporated into eukaryotic cells under a process known as endosymbiosis.
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