The Energy Factory of The Plant Cell: What Does The Mitochondria Do?

What Does the Mitochondria Do in a Plant Cell

When you are studying the plant cell you must have come across the term mitochondria. For the uninitiated, mitochondria are a permanent feature of plant cells.

Now, most of you have probably heard the popular statement “mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell”. While that does give you some idea about it, to understand what the mitochondria do in a plant cell, we will have to dig deeper. 

The mitochondria have a very important role in the plant cell as plants are multicellular. So you need to know about it in great detail if you are studying a bit about botany. 

What Are Mitochondria? 

What Are Mitochondria

First of all, you need to know that mitochondria are cell organelles, and both animals and plants have them. If you didn’t know, organelle means smaller structures inside the cell that kind of work like organs in sync. Another thing is that mitochondrion is the singular of mitochondria, but we usually say mitochondria because there are a bunch of them together in cells. 

Remember we mentioned that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell; by that, we mean it provides the plant with its required energy so the plant can carry out its regular functions. We will be explaining its function more elaborately in the next section. 

The number of mitochondria in each cell varies depending on the need for energy in the cell. Some cells require more energy than others, so as a result, they have a greater number of mitochondria. To give you more context, muscle cells have the highest number of mitochondria because they need the most energy, whereas there are no mitochondria in red blood cells at all. 

Inside the mitochondria, you have the mitochondria matrix, which consists of essential enzymes for cellular respiration. A very unique quality of mitochondria is that these organelles have DNA as well as ribosomes of their own this is because they create proteins. The mitochondria have two membranes, the outer membrane and the inner membrane, and the space inside this organelle is called the intermembrane space. 

What is the Primary Function of Mitochondria in Plant Cells?

What is the Primary Function of Mitochondria in Plant Cells?

As we have mentioned before, mitochondria provide energy to the cell so it can do its job, which is why mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of energy factories. They help create this energy for the rest of the cell by cellular respiration. 

Plants need energy for photosynthesis and several other processes, such as absorbing water and transporting it to the required parts of the plant. They are also essential for the proper development of plants. 

While providing the plant with energy is its primary function, there are a few other important things that this organelle does to keep the plant’s performance good. 

How do Mitochondria Produce Energy in Plant Cells?

How do Mitochondria Produce Energy in Plant Cells

So, how is this energy produced? The entire process that provides this energy is called cellular respiration.

It all begins in the cytoplasm where the glucose from photosynthesis is converted to another smaller molecule called pyruvate. The process that glucose undergoes to transform into pyruvate is known as glycolysis. Such a large molecule like glucose can’t pass through the membranes of the mitochondria. However, once pyruvate is again transformed into another even smaller molecule called Acetyl-CoA it can get absorbed into the mitochondria. 

Once this molecule gets into the mitochondria matrix, the second stage of cellular respiration begins which is the Krebs Cycle. After the Krebs cycle and glycolysis both have been completed, the cell gets a tiny bit of ATP, which is actually to complete the cellular respiration. 

The very last stage is called oxidative phosphorylation, and it is when electrons are donated to the mitochondria’s inner membrane’s electron transport chain. By this step, ATP synthase produces ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). This is the molecule that mostly carries the energy inside the cell, and you can think of it as somewhat like fuel for the cell. 

What are the Consequences of Damaged or Dysfunctional Mitochondria in Plant Cells?

Your plant will not look in good shape if it has damaged or dysfunctional mitochondria. If a portion of the mitochondria is damaged, then the plant may survive otherwise, if your plant has full mitochondrial dysfunction, it might cause the death of the plant. 

In the case, where your plant doesn’t die, it will have difficulty in carrying out most plant functions. This is because damaged mitochondria will not be able to produce the same amount of ATP, so the plant will have much less energy than it would usually have. 

What research is currently being conducted on mitochondrial function in plant cells? 

The main thing that researchers are focusing on with mitochondria in plant cells is something called mitochondrial dynamics. By doing further research on mitochondrial dynamics, researchers aim to understand how it makes mitochondrial functions more efficient as the energy needs for cells change. 


Let’s do a final wrap-up on what the mitochondria do in a plant cell. This organelle is the powerhouse of the cell, as we have said plenty of times above, and this energy is provided by the range of processes that fall under cellular respiration. ATP is created which is the main energy-carrying molecule of the cell once cellular respiration is complete. 

You can find more details about how the mitochondria carry out their primary function in plant cells, but our article is meant to give you a clear intermediate-level explanation. We hope you were able to grasp everything we have said about mitochondria in plant cells and keep learning!

Related Posts:

Maintaining a Balance: How Homeostasis In Plants Keep Them Healthy

The Common Structure That Makes Plants and Animals Cells Work

What Organelles Can You Find in Plant Cells?

What is The Function of Vacuole In a Plant Cell?

What Do Leaves Do for A Plant? The Unsung Heroes of Plant World

Mohammed Rujel

Over the Years, I have gained a lot of experience in different aspects of gardening. I actively learned about plants and how to care for them, and also have a lot of experience in dealing with pests and diseases. My expertise is on teaching how to grow healthy plants and make them look their best.

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