The mitochondrion (plural: mitochondria) is the energy-production centre of the cell.
Cells need energy to break down molecules and build new ones. Mitochondria produce energy using aerobic respiration.
Aerobic respiration produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules, which are used as an energy source by other parts of the cell.
Mitochondria are unusual in two important aspects:
- Mitochondria contain their own genetic information.
- Mitochondria multiply independently from the cell. This process is similar to the multiplication of bacteria.
It is commonly thought that mitochondria evolved from free living single-cell organisms with no nucleus (prokaryotes).