Nick Lane, the author, has a very big interest in the mitochondria. The book gives very detailed descriptions about the mitochondria and biological terms regarding about the mitochondria. The title “Power, Sex, Suicide” got me interested to read the book. The title relates to the book itself because the book itself talks about a bit of evolution of life, the sexual reproduction, and the process of aging. “Mitochondria – The Meaning of Life”, the subtitle, gives the general idea of what the book is about.
At first, mitochondria was typically known as “The power centers of the cell” but in this book, Nick has given effort out of interest to make a book that talks more about the interesting facts about the mitochondria and how it affects the evolution of humanity. The mitochondria, isn’t just a powerhouse of a cell, it was thought to be an “independent bacteria living lives” and the name originated from the Mitochondrial Eve. The author would take us back in the past at around 2-3 billion years ago and it gives us an introduction of the whole process of the evolutionary process of the mitochondria.
He would split the information of the process of the evolutionary process of the mitochondria in 7 sections where each section explains a piece of the origin of the mitochondria and how it is today. When the mitochondria were still known as “independent bacteria living lives”, the book explains about how through the process of “endosymbiosis” it was being taken into organelles and became a part of the development of where we are now. Without the mitochondria being engulfed by other single – celled eukaryotes, then life on earth wouldn’t be as evolved as it is now.
From reading this book, it was in a way that if you don’t know too much about the mitochondria, you will be confused. After a few times of reading the same section of the book, you’re able to see the difference from when you were stuck in that part to where you understand what he wrote because Nick Lane likes to refer things and allow the reader to remember back from the things he’s written even if he’s introducing a new topic. His findings in the mitochondria is more detailed that what we really needed to know but it’s amazing how much effort a person can explain about a topic.
The book doesn’t just talk about the biology section of it but it also talks about a bit of chemistry as well. Nick explains the term “Hydrogen Hypothesis” and it’s basically about the concept of having a bonding between two prokaryotes and made the maternal eukaryote. He also describes the ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) and how we make our energy through oxidization and reduction. We are able to understand that for the ATP, it is used as an energy currency where it helps the cells from making the nutrients and proteins to another function.
The book also provides diagrams for a visual look which allows readers to understand the concept in further depth and one of the diagrams shown was the simplified representation of the respiratory chain where the diagram shown labelled where the complexes I, III, IV, and where the ATPase is. I also learned that the ATP has a decomposition of adenosine diphosphate, and phosphate. It’s to show that “muscle fibres split ATP to liberate the energy that they need to contract and relax again”. The book contains a lot of information about the mitochondria.
It talks about the origin of the mitochondria, the sexual reproduction of 2 sexes and genes, and the process of aging. The world without mitochondria is like a world that’s never going to be evolved at a state like today. The book teaches and helps us understand how important it is to know about the mitochondria and how important it was for the mitochondria to be engulfed and used for organelles. Nick Lane leaves the book with a question because there’s still so a lot of information ready to be explored.