Two Types of Mitochondrial Division
The "power plants of the cell" can split up in different ways: by central or peripheral constriction. The latter is probably used to dispose of damaged cell material.
In the turmoil of the French Revolution, the renowned chemist Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier (1743-1794) was executed by guillotine. Shortly before, he had made crucial discoveries about where breathing biological organisms get their energy from. He recognized that respiration "is simply a slow combustion of carbon and hydrogen, and functions much like a lamp or a burning candle; and from this point of view, breathing animals are in a sense fuel cells burning themselves".
Around the middle of the 20th century it became clear: The burning process postulated by Lavoisier takes place in the mitochondria. These cell structures are therefore considered to be the power plants of the cells. The combustion that takes place in them damages molecules and molecular assemblies, which is why defects gradually accumulate in active mitochondria. Among the most serious are mutations in the mitochondrial genome, which is located inside the organelles. Using a breakdown process called "mitophagy," the cell removes damaged mitochondria by breaking them down and partially recycling them, which is important for maintaining cell functions over the long term. Disturbances of this mechanism are implicated in the development of Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases - especially when they affect long-lived neurons.
In the course of mitophagy, mitchondria can split and thus separate their damaged parts from the intact ones. In addition, mitochondria also divide during cell growth and cell proliferation in order to always be present in sufficient quantities. These divisions, as opposed to those resulting from damage, bode well for cellular he alth…