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EMBO Rep. 2005 Jun;6(6):525-30.

Degenerate mitochondria.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK.


Mitochondria are the main sites of biological energy generation in eukaryotes. These organelles are remnants of a bacterial endosymbiont that took up residence inside a host cell over 1,500 million years ago. Comparative genomics studies suggest that the mitochondrion is monophyletic in origin. Thus, the original mitochondrial endosymbiont has evolved independently in anaerobic and aerobic environments that are inhabited by diverse eukaryotic lineages. This process has resulted in a collection of morphologically, genetically and functionally heterogeneous organelle variants that include anaerobic and aerobic mitochondria, hydrogenosomes and mitosomes. Current studies aim to determine whether a central common function drives the retention of mitochondrial organelles in different eukaryotic organisms.

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