Mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and nucleus; a trio of elements that I have represented many times, each a new view of a complex interactions. This one is a happy arrangement in a balanced equilibrium, living a quiet life.
The endoplasmic reticulum is the main actor in this mitonuclear view, the mitochondria are encased. It is not a quiet ER, but an angry and confused one. Its role, the nucleus and the cytoplasm invert as the view moves south.
This mitonucleus image is the natural evolution of the original ‘mitochondrial dawn’ image that has made many appearances on book covers, posters, even stamps. That original piece was smaller in size and is currently hanging in a leading mitochondrial lab in Cambridge, UK. Here, the intimate relationship between mitochondria and nucleus is completed by the endoplasmic reticulum.
Arrangements of ATP synthases in the mitochondria inner membrane can be seen as production fields of energy. The shape of the ATP synthase is an elegant and dynamic one, better captured, I think, inserted in its natural habitat.
A lower magnification view of ATP synthases in mitochondrial membranes. Here, the fields of energy can be compared to the ‘ordinary’ fields with randomly distributed olive trees. Dry olive trees versus rich energy in ATP synthases. No mistake.
We are closer to understanding the origin of life on earth than to comprehend human consciousness. And the origin of life is also easier to paint, I think. Here the inorganic molecules mix and become organic molecules that mix and become simple cells that mix and evolve and become….
The electron microscope comes as close as we can currently get to really see an ATP synthase. And it is an impressive sight. Artificial, sure, many tricks are needed to arrive there. But the magic that we know is going on is all it takes to find the image fascinating. And it is, here in ‘negative’ with black background. We know there is drama there.
Continuing with the excitement of imagining the mitochondrial membranes tightly arranged in their space constrained packets, here the drama is upped by the introduction of mitochondrial DNA. Quick silver-like wrangling and slithering, it achieves the effect of making the membranes look solid and stable. Which of the two is more of a labyrinth? Both are packed full of unanswered questions.
The origin of simple life being studied in the lab. Silvester species are captured, grow, mutate and escape to the wilderness again. Life coming and going between the lab and the wild, as once upon a time perhaps life moved out of its original site to the wild, and never looked back.
A network of mitochondria defines sometimes the outline of a cell with some microscopic techniques. A complex and convoluted labyrinth of interconnected mitochondria. This one is chasing its tail. Which may be less misguided that you might think.