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.
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.
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.
He studied medicine in Greifswald, Königsberg, Marburg, and Giessen, and earned his doctorate at the University of Giessen in 1877. Afterwards, he was a prosector at Leipzig, and in 1887 became a professor (extraordinary) of anatomy. He died in Hubertusburg in 1900 from a nervous disorder.
Altmann is known for his work involving cell theory and structure. In his study of animal cells, he investigated small granules in the protoplasm of the cell. He called these particles- bioblasts, which he postulated were elementary organisms that had metabolic and genetic autonomy. Today Altmann’s bioblasts are known as mitochondria. In 1890 Altmann published his findings in a treatise named Die Elementarorganismen (The Elementary Organism), which was met with skepticism by many in the scientific community.
One of my many versions of Altmann’s bioblasts. Today they are called mitochondria, and are the energy-producing elements of cells. I like the vision of Altmann, not just because he was the first observing, describing and naming the organelles, but also because it is a simplification that appeals to me: you see the outline of the cells, the nucleus as a non-entity in the middle, and mitochondria. It was, in fact, an artifact of the process he used to prepare the samples for his microscope.
One of several versions of ‘mitochondria in action’. This has been one of my most successful themes, although this one is not a particularly good one. As Picasso once said, I often paint fakes. The colours are the same in principle, but quite different in practice. The final result depends on the thickness of the silk I used, the type of paint, the amount of light in the room when I was painting it. Some of the mitochondria in action have a lot more force in them than others. There are also a couple of ties out there with this theme, but very few indeed.