There are aliens inside us…hidden deep inside us…restless ones who move about changing shape and creating quite a stir…subtly effecting us in ways we cannot imagine…slowly taking over our minds…driving us insane…
This is the dramatic version I like to entertain myself with. The one that suggests a nerdy sci-fi thriller mixed with a slick medical docudrama. This may not be too far off. ..
So just what am I jabbering on about you ask?
(Play dramatic music here)
that’s right. Mitochondria.
As we all know from Science class , mitochondria are adorable microscopic rod-shaped organelles. They live inside our cells, they give us our get up and go, our va va va voom and our very breath.
Really far out and groovy scientists hypothesize that millions of years ago a microscopic free-living single-celled organism met up with another larger microscopic free-living single-celled organism and the two dug each other so much they reached some sort of agreement to develop a symbiotic relationship. And so they did; shacking up together like bohemian live-in lovers, one not being able to live without the other, each complimenting each other perfectly. Eventually, the larger organism developed into a cell, the eukaryotic cell to be exact and the smaller organism developed into the mitochondrion we know today. But how much do we know about mitochondria anyway?
Although they live inside us, mitochondrion do not share our DNA, they have their own. They are quite the powerhouses of energy. They can change shape rapidly and are quite restless moving about ours cells almost constantly.
Mitochondria may not be literally the air that we breathe but it is they who convert the oxygen we breathe into energy in a process called aerobic respiration. Without mitochondria higher animals such as you and I and even my cat Mario are not likely to exist…
Ever since I heard of mitochondria and this arrangement made millions of years ago I have been fascinated.
I myself have entered into what most would consider a symbiotic relationships with another human and I don’t have to tell anyone that sometimes these relationships just don’t turn out. Sometimes they end badly and by the time you realize this, it’s already too late and you have been driven insane. It happens all the time. But imagine if you had literally absorbed this partner into your body and now it’s DNA is in your nucleus! How can you undo this? Argument, logic or idle threats cannot separate you. You are stuck with this mistake forever and there’s no amount of clever legalese or high priced lawyers that can save you. OMG! Yikes!!
Really? Can your Mitochondria make you crazy and if I ever do go crazy can I use this as an excuse?
I have been catching up on my technical journals and ran into articles citing evidence that there is a correlation between mutated mitochondrion and mental illness. This is no surprise.
This aspect is what intrigues me about the whole subject. I mean could these little buggers be influencing us on a more subtle level, and if I screw up or do something stupid can I blame them?
Would anyone buy this?
This is what I ponder as I look out the window into the great wide world outside. I watch two crows fly high in the sky which leads to more pondering. Yes, there are times when symbiosis goes horribly wrong but what happens when it goes wonderfully right? Apart from some craziness, are we not the product of a successful symbiosis? I try to imagine a time before the merging of the two single-celled organisms that created life as we know it here on earth. In our narrow human point of view not a lot had happened before this chance meeting. It was a spark that set off a whole heaping helping of a lot, dammit…
…has all of this been good ? That I will ponder another day…
I feel restless…
..the sun is out and I think I will go for walk
References and Related Articles
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