The cell: an “old gift” surviving in nature

Screenshot 2019-02-01 at 21.33.08
Image source: Human Biology Cell Structure Lubna

By Micaela Gliozzi

During evolution, some bacteria that could obtain the energy needed for their survival using oxygen, were incorporated into other bacteria that were unable to use oxygen because it blocked their growth. This process of incorporation did not lead to the extinction of the two different species, but instead became a mutual advantage for both types of bacteria; in fact, they survived by remaining one inside the other. Over time, they gave rise to a new, self-sufficient form of life by reprogramming their life processes in a different way. The newly-formed entity was the “cell”.

Such a process of evolutionary transformation is also evident in every cell of the human body. In fact, there are small cigar-shaped compartments called mitochondria inside cells, which correspond exactly to bacteria that were originally able to live by themselves with the help of oxygen.

This characteristic of mitochondria is fundamental and enables every cell to carry out its specific function within an organism. While all cell structures are organized to capture the nutrients necessary for survival from blood and take them in to begin their digestion, it is the mitochondria that complete their digestion with the help of oxygen, thus obtaining all the energy needed for life.

Therefore, the “modern” cell can be thought of as the result of a mutual gift that persists over time and is imprinted in nature.

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