Every living creature...plants...animals...human beings....bloodvamps...psivamps, and beyond...is composed of biological building blocks called "cells". Cells reproduce and multiply, using DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) as a genetic bluprint that tells them what tissues, organs, and organisms to create. By whatever standard of beliefe you hold, be it creationism, evolution, or decisively "other" one has to be amazed at how perfectly our cells work to support themselves, and seemingly could go on forever. The focus of this theory, however, is aimed towards the mitochondria.

 

"Every cell of the body contains many tiny organelles called mitochondria . These mitochondria produce most of the energy used by the body. Cells with a high metabolic rate (heart muscle cells) may contain many thousands of mitochondria. Some cells may contain only dozens.

Mitochondrial energy production is a foundation for health and wellbeing. It is necessary for physical strength, stamina and consciousness. Even subtle deficits in mitochondrial function can cause weakness, fatigue and cognitive difficulties. Chemicals which strongly interfere with mitochondrial function are known to be potent poisons. During aging, mitochondrial function may become compromised."

Basically, the mitochondria supply almost all of the energy to the cell (90%). Without mitochondria there is no life, because, as we all well know, life requires energy!

 

"Mitochondrial energy production is accomplished by two closely linked metabolic processes. First, the citric acid cycle converts biological fuel (carbohydrates and fatty acids) into ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and hydrogen (in the form of NADH and FADH2)for further explanation of NADH and FADH2). Second, the electron transport chain combines hydrogen with oxygen to generate abundant ATP in a highly efficient and tightly controlled manner. Mitochondrial efficiency has been reported to be close to 70%, which compares quite favorably with internal combustion engines (about 10% efficient) or hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells used in spacecraft (approximately 40% efficient). The process of generating ATP with oxygen is called oxidative phosphorylation. This process generates approximately ten times more ATP than the citric acid cycle alone, and generates more ATP than any other energy-producing pathway (e.g., glycolysis). Oxidative phosphorylation is the primary energy process for all aerobic organisms."

In order for the mitochondria to survive, it requires oxygen, supplied by the nucleus, thus forming a symbiotic relationship. The way our cells are set up, if the amount energy processed in the cells remained abundant, we would not age much past our prime due to the constant regeneration of live cells. It is actually the inefficiency of mitochondra, called Mitochondrian Aging that causes aging and eventual death.

"Mitochondrial electron transport is not perfect. Even under ideal conditions, some electrons “leak” from the electron transport chain. These leaking electrons interact with oxygen to produce superoxide radicals. With mitochondrial dysfunction, leakage of electrons can increase significantly. The close proximity of mtDNA to the flux of superoxide radicals (or hydroxyl radicals), and it’s lack of protection and repair mechanisms, leads to free radical-mediated mutations and deletions. Mitochondrial aging has been proposed as an underlying cause of 1) free-radical stress, 2) degenerative disease and 3) aging [Miguel, 1980, 1991, 1992, Shigenaga et al., 1994].

Evidence is accumulating that mitochondrial dysfunction underlies many common pathologies. Mitochondrial defects have been identified in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease [Hutchin and Cortopassi, 1995], heart disease, fatigue syndromes, numerous genetic conditions, and nucleoside therapy for AIDS. Also, many common nutritional deficiencies can impair mitochondrial efficiency.

At this time, the degree of mitochondrial involvement in age-related mental decline (ARMD) and age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) is not known. A significant amount of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage seen in Parkinson’s disease is also observed in age-matched controls. Such observations suggest that reductions in mitochondrial efficiency and ATP output may underlie many age-associated phenomena. The successful use of mitochondrial support nutrients to ameliorate serious mitochondrial diseases may prove to be generalizable to the subclinical complaints of normal, healthy, aging humans."

For scientists of microbiology and genetics, there is a commonly believed theory which states that the fundamental genetic instinct is suvival of the species. According to microbiology, the nucleus and the mitochondria of the cell are dependant upon one another for survival. But this wasn't always so.

"One interesting property of mitochondria is that they have their own DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the stuff of which genes and chromosomes are made. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is quite different from nuclear DNA in several respects. First, it exists as a simple plasmid (a DNA loop), and in this respect, it is more akin to bacterial DNA than the chromosomal DNA of higher organisms. Second, mtDNA is not associated with histones. Histones are positively charged “storage” proteins around which nuclear DNA is wound for safekeeping (like thread on a spool). Third, most of the complex DNA repair mechanisms that correct damage to nuclear DNA are missing from mitochondria. All of these features have prompted some scientists to speculate that mitochondria are ancient remnants of primitive symbiotic bacteria. Whether this view is correct or not, the relatively unprotected and unrepaired mtDNA suffers more than ten times the damage that nuclear DNA does [Miguel, 1991, 1992; Shigenaga et al., 1994]. This leads to mitochondrial dysfunction, disruption of cellular energy production, and accelerated cellular aging [Miguel, 1980]."

By this statement we can assume that at some point mitochondria evolved into their current productive state. Also we know that the mitochondria carry their own DNA, thus making genetic evolution possible still.

By these facts and the genetic law stated above, one could hypothesize that the mitochondria might evolve in for the sake of survival.

Perhaps a person is born with a biological malfunction. Examples: There cells did not contain enough mitochondria, or perhaps the nuclei of their cells were not supplying enough oxygen to the mitochondria. It would be assumed that any being under these circumstances would die...perhaps never even be born. But what if, as happened in the past, the mitochondria began to evolve to ensure survival? What if the cells themselves began to seek other ways to absorb the energy that means continuance?

Please share your thoughts...

Additions

10/14/98
" You might want to mention someting about bacteria. They have a plasmid of DNA also and that allows them to replicate and to mutate tons faster than the human body. And in the mtDNA it is just a single loop, (bacteria is a double loop) which would allow it to replecate and mutate even faster."

That's right folks! Bacteria mutates faster than human cells, and mitochondria mutates faster than that! Considering that the mitochondra are the energy producers for the cell, they could easily provide energy for thier own evolution.

Here is an odd hypothesis: IF mitochondria mutated to a point were they did not need the nucleus to supply them oxygen, and began directing more and more energy into thier own mutation, then not only would that leave the cells devoid of energy (hence the DNA of the cell evolving to seek OTHER ways of obtaining energy) but it would be a slowly an entire different race of beings would begin to surface. Naturally something like this would build gradually over a millenia or two. Society and human nature would repress any personal acknowledge of this, or find alternative means of explanation. In order for any true evidence of any of this to surface, it would take a means of massive world communication in which people with this condition would begin to communicate...compare the common threads. Something like the internet perhaps. *laughs*

9/22/99-(Recieved via E-mail)

"Dear friends,

Life is based on DNA and mitochondria have its own DNA. Life is expression of genes here. They (genes) are competing and helping and are in equillibrium. No one gene can survive long without others. Most excellent example is that of Tom Ray (at Santa Fe Institute and several places at once), artificial evolution experiment with Tierra program. mitochondria help nuclear genes by providing energy, but also have poison of caspasases, HIF, cytochrome c inside, which order cell death or apoptosis. If mtDNA is slowly decreased, free radical generation go up and then mitochondrial transcription factor(Tfam) goes up for a while and then goes down, ultimately supporessing mitochondrial function, and may be death of mitochondria and whole cell. They cannot escape this destiny, except that they undergo transformation, which is malignant to the whole body. This malignant cell has achieved permanent life.....but whole organism will face death and the this very limitted immortality. Cell is a kind of samll world, but genes cannot escape their destiny.... unless..."


No, I am not serious....not yet.....just speaking hypothesis and possibilities.