The basic unit of all plants is the plant cell. And just like animal cells, plant cells are eukaryotic. That means that these have membrane-bound organelles and a nucleus. Now, when it comes to most eukaryotic organisms, there is something called the cell’s digestive system, which is mitochondria.
So, do plant cells have mitochondria? Well, the answer can be pretty straightforward, considering the fact that the cells are eukaryotic. But is that the case? Also, even if they have mitochondria, what do the cells need them for? We will answer it all in this discussion!
What is Mitochondria?
Mitochondria, popularly known as the “Powerhouse of the Cell,” are double-membrane-bound organelle. And as we have mentioned above, they are found in most eukaryotic organisms, including plant cells.
A mitochondrion, a singular form of mitochondria, generates most of the chemical energy the cell needs to power the biochemical reactions. That is exactly why mitochondria are known as the powerhouse of cells.
The chemical energy a mitochondrion produces is usually stored in a small molecule. That molecule goes by the name of Adenosine Triphosphate, otherwise known as ATP. And this molecule is essential to drive all of the cellular functions and all the other biological processes.
That said, mitochondria have their chromosomes. For that reason, the mitochondrial DNA they get is inherited from the mother. Now, you might be wondering how mitochondria produce energy. Well, mitochondria produce energy by making the chemicals within the cell go through pathways.
As the ATP produced by mitochondria is a high-energy bond, it is more than capable of providing energy for other reactions within the cell.
Nonetheless, some cells might have different amounts of mitochondria. The reason behind that is that those cells require more energy than the others. And in comparison, plant cells have fewer mitochondria than animal cells. So, that translates to plant cells requiring less energy than animal cells.
Different Parts of a Mitochondrion
The mitochondrion has different compartments. Each of them carries out a specialized function. Some of the significant regions of a mitochondrion include:
The outer portion includes proteins that are called porins. These form channels that allow the proteins to cross. And that is not applicable for just proteins. Other small molecules can also freely pass through this outer membrane. This membrane also hosts a large number of enzymes that have different functions.
Intermembrane Space and Inner Membrane
Basically, the intermembrane space is the area that is between the outer membrane and inner membrane. And the inner membrane of mitochondria has loads of roles. As porins are not available in the inner membrane, it is not permeable for most molecules.
Now, special membrane transporters come into action for the molecules to pass through the inner membrane. And the inner membrane is the region where mitochondrion forms most of the ATP.
These are folds that are within the inner membrane. They are responsible for increasing the surface area of the membrane. And when the membrane has a large surface area, there will be enough space available for all of the chemical reactions.
The matrix is another space within the inner membrane. It contains hundreds and hundreds of enzymes. All of these enzymes are crucial for the production of ATP. Also, the matrix holds the mitochondrial DNA.
Do Plant Cells Feature Mitochondria?
Plant cells are eukaryotic. And just like most other eukaryotic organisms, you will find mitochondria inside the plant cells. Mitochondria, in plant cells, carry out loads of critical processes inside the plant.
Like animal cells, mitochondria have a significant role in synthesizing ATP through the coupling of a membrane in plant cells. That allows the transfer of electrons from NADH to O2. NADH is generally generated from the oxidation of organic acids. And they are generated through the tricarboxylic acid cycle.
Along with that, mitochondria also perform loads of secondary functions, including the synthesis of amino acids, vitamins, lipids, and nucleotides.
Do Plant Cells Need Mitochondria?
One of the key differences between plant cells and animal cells is the chloroplast. It is an organelle that remains within the cells of the plants. And it is the site of photosynthesis. Now, photosynthesis is a process through which energy from the sun is converted into chemical energy. Plants use this chemical energy for growth.
So, why do plants need mitochondria when they already have chloroplast? Well, mitochondria have their own genome. They undertake translation and transcription by some unique mechanism. And they actively import metabolites and proteins from the cytosol. Those are involved in programmed processes of cell death in plants.
The metabolites and proteins are also involved in the functions of responding to different cellular stress conditions. In comparison, chloroplasts are plant cell organelles. They are responsible for converting light energy into chemical energy. And they create that relatively stable energy through the photosynthetic process.
By carrying out the photosynthesis process, chloroplasts sustain life on earth. Along with that, Chloroplasts are also responsible for carrying out different metabolic activities in plant cells. That includes the synthesis of membrane lipids, fatty acids, tetrapyrroles, isoprenoids, and others.
So, it goes without saying that plant cells require both mitochondria and chloroplasts as they both perform cell respiration and photosynthesis. While chloroplast converts solar energy into chemical energy, mitochondria produce ATP.
What Would Happen If a Plant Cell Didn’t Have Mitochondria?
In short, plants will not be capable of surviving without mitochondria. It is a vital cell organelle needed for the survival of all living. And although plant cells have chloroplasts, which produce chemical energy from light, without mitochondria, there will be no cellular respiration. That would eventually make the cell not function.
The same thing is applicable to animal cells. In fact, any cell that requires mitochondria will not function without them.
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So, in a nutshell, plant cells do have mitochondria. They are essential for cellular respiration and the production of energy. And without mitochondria, the plant cells will not function, even with chloroplast in them.