Animal Cells and Mitochondria. The earliest chimera to occur was the combination of the standard cells (eukaryotes, which contain DNA) with mitochondria, which are very similar to free-living, small lozenge-shaped bacteria. This union occurred 2 million years ago.
However, recent research shows that mitochondria do far more than this – much of this is very technical, but some of the more easily understood examples are:-
- They help to regulate cell division
- They control the availability of Calcium, which is essential to bone growth and the activatoion of neurons
- They provide specialist functions almost everywhere in the body, from synthesising steroids in the gonads, to detoxifying ammonia in the liver
- They produce a molecule called humanin, a small peptide that seems to be very important in protecting against Alzheimer’s
So, the mitochondria are clearly much more than battery packs
The whole issue of DNA is quite difficult – in the spiritual literature, as far as I know, there is nothing to predict the discovery or double helix structure of DNA, and science itself struggles to make sense of how and why it works and how it evolved. Mitochondrial DNA greatly adds to the mystery, because
- Mitochondria are only inherited from the mother of the baby, so they form the basis of the “African Eve” theory - that all human mitochondria can be traced back to just one woman in early human history. (I think this just applies to part of the DNA that are invariant – other parts mutate very quickly)
- Because the mitochondria are sometimes the carriers of genetic problems, the “3-parent baby” development has arisen, the faulty mitochondria in the embryo can be replaced by healthy ones from another woman, so the baby will (we hope) be healthy and have 3 parents.
- In normal cell DNA, there are 16,569 base pairs, whereas mitochondria only have 37. But, normal DNA contains long separate “words” of genetic code, whereas in mitochondria, the code is “nested” and overlaps – if the pairs are “abcdefghijkl” …….. then “abcdef” with produce one useful chemical, ”cdefg” might produce another, “defghi” yet another and so on. AS far aas we know, this Russian Doll effect only occurs in mitochondria
We have to admit there is a lot to learn still
For a long time it was thought that the main role of the mitochondria was as a little battery pack – it provided the synthesis of ATP (adenine tri-phosphate) which provides the energy for nearly all cells.