Power, Sex, Suicide

Mitochondria are cool, important, and fascinating. You know the basic story. Mitochondria are the result of endosymbiosis. A bacterim or bacteria-like organism insinuated itself into another bacterium or bacteria-like organism. The former was small, the latter large. A relationship started up whereby the smaller one became an organelle in the larger one, and Eukaryotic life was formed. You probably also know that in multi-celled organisms mitochondria may be passed on by one sex (female) so paleogenetic research can sort out female lineages by looking only at the DNA found in the mitochondria (mtDNA). But there are things that perhaps you did not know, like the relationship between the whole mitochondria thing and why sex exists, various diseases including cancer, and aging (of cells and of organisms). Also, mitochondria related to organismic complexity, warm bloodedness, and a range of other basic biological facts of life.

Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane is a bold and largely successful attempt at tying this all together in an engaging and informative way.

I know some teachers who read the book and have found much useful current, integrative material for use in their advanced biology classes. That’s a hint: If you know a life science teacher, this is a great stocking stuffer!

Comments

  1. #1 Lars
    December 20, 2012

    You’re right, a great and useful book. His Oxygen is another worth a look for those teaching introductory biology, as well as for its own sake.

  2. #2 Mike Olson
    December 20, 2012

    Love this book. Thus far, love all his stuff.

  3. #3 djlactin
    December 22, 2012

    “A relationship started up whereby the smaller one became an organelle in the larger one, and Eukaryotic life was formed.”
    Serious overstatement!
    Endosymbiosis with a protomitochondrion was only one of many steps involved in the evolution of eukaryotes.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    December 22, 2012

    Djlactin, indeed it involved more steps. But here I’m telling you about the book, not providing you with the book!

  5. #5 select lash
    December 24, 2012

    ger age than we allow them to be exposed to the beauty of our bodies. We make it taboo while glorifying violence and bloodshed.