Levels of Organization Image Map

What do membranes of mitochondria look like?

Only the high-power magnification of an electron microscope makes membranes of mitochondria visible. 

The picture on the right shows a mitochondrion. It is oval shaped and surrounded by a double membrane, much like the cell membrane. Inside are many membranes that anchor the proteins that help trap chemical bond energy of pyruvic acid in phosphate bonds. Mitochondria Image

Why do cells need mitochondria?

Cells have to get energy from somewhere. We know that we get our energy from the food we eat. We are not like plants that can make materials and energy from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. But how does food produce energy? Food is digested (broken down) into small enough molecules that can be absorbed into the blood from the intestine.  Chemical reactions in the body make many of those molecules into the energy source known as glucose. Glucose is a 6-carbon sugar.

Food to Energy Process Chart

The whole process of burning foodstuffs is called "oxidative metabolism." It involves three series of reactions:

  1. Glucose conversion to pyruvic acid.
  2. Pyruvic acid conversion to carbon dioxide and water.
  3. Oxygen reactions that store energy for cells.


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