Power, Sex, Suicide

Power, Sex, Suicide

Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life

Book - 2005
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Power, Sex, Suicide, Complexity, Individuality, Fertility, Prehistory, Ageing, Death.These universal themes are all linked by mitochondria - the tiny structures located inside our cells - miniature powerhouses that use oxygen to generate power. There are hundreds of them in each cell, some 10 million billion in a human being. Once considered menial slaves, mere workhorses forcomplex cells with nuclei, their significance is now undergoing a radical revision. Mitochondria are now seen as the key ingredient that made complex life possible at all.For two billion years, bacteria ruled the earth without ever generating true complexity - a stasis that may still grip life on other planets. Then the union of two bacterial cells led to an evolutionary big bang, from which algae, fungi, plants and animals emerged. For mitochondria were oncefree-living bacteria, and still retain unmistakable traits of their ancestry, including some of their original DNA. Ever since their fateful absorption, the tortuous and unpredictable relationship between the mitochondria and their host cells has forced one evolutionary innovation after another.Without mitochondria, nothing would exist of the world we know and love. Their story is the story of life itself.Today, mitochondria are central to research into human prehistory, genetic diseases, cell suicide, fertility, ageing, bioenergetics, sex and the eukaryotic cell. Piecing together puzzles from the forefront of research, this book paints a sweeping canvas that will thrill all who are interested inbiology, while also contributing to evolutionary thinking and debate.This is a book full of startling insights into the nature and evolution of life, and should be read by anyone who wants to know why we're here.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2005.
ISBN: 9780192804815
0192804812
Characteristics: xiii, 354 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm.

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bdriskell
Jul 04, 2011

Ahem! The previous reviewer was obviously as awestruck and enlightened as I by this incredibly insightful book. I'm a biologist but don't deal with this cellular stuff to any great extent--more so at the ecological level. But every once in while, one comes across a nugget of information that just fits like a long-sought jigsaw puzzle piece. In this book, you get all the corners and edges of the puzzle, too. I was totally absorbed by this book, from the scope of topics to the depth and accessibility of technical evidence. Well done! I learned more pertinent facts about cell physiology and microbiology and multicellular evolution than I've ever been previously exposed to. I can't say my cellular paradigm has shifted cuz I don't think I ever had one. But these lines of research, presented in such an integrated manner has given me real insights into cell evolution and much to ponder as I now peruse cellular advancements in the science press.

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