Power, Sex, Suicide : Mitochondria and the meaning of life: Mitochondria and the meaning of life

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Oxford University Press, UK, Oct 13, 2005 - Science - 372 pages
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Mitochondria are tiny structures within all our cells, believed to have once evolved from bacteria living independent lives. Drawing on cutting edge research, this book explores the fundamental role they play in some of the biggest themes in biology: evolution, the origin of the sexes, in growth, ageing, disease, and in death. - ;Power, Sex, Suicide, Complexity, Individuality, Fertility, Prehistory, Ageing, Death. These universal themes are all linked by mitochondria - the tiny structures located inside our cells - miniature powerhouses that use oxygen to generate power. There are hundreds of them in each cell, some 10 million billion in a human being. Once considered menial slaves, mere workhorses for complex cells with nuclei, their significance is now undergoing a radical revision. Mitochondria are now seen as the key ingredient that made complex life possible at all. For two billion years, bacteria ruled the earth without ever generating true complexity - a stasis that may still grip life on other planets. Then the union of two bacterial cells led to an evolutionary big bang, from which algae, fungi, plants and animals emerged. For mitochondria were once free-living bacteria, and still retain unmistakable traits of their ancestry, including some of their original DNA. Ever since their fateful absorption, the tortuous and unpredictable relationship between the mitochondria and their host cells has forced one evolutionary innovation after another. Without mitochondria, nothing would exist of the world we know and love. Their story is the story of life itself. Today, mitochondria are central to research into human prehistory, genetic diseases, cell suicide, fertility, ageing, bioenergetics, sex and the eukaryotic cell. Piecing together puzzles from the forefront of research, this book paints a sweeping canvas that will thrill all who are interested in biology, while also contributing to evolutionary thinking and debate. This is a book full of startling insights into the nature and evolution of life, and should be read by anyone who wants to know why we're here. - ;Challenging, but rewarding. - Observer;Full of startling insights into the nature and evolution of life as we know it. - Economist Best Books of the Year, 2005;An enthralling account...The author has accomplished something quite breathtaking...moreover,he brings the science alive...he is always accessible, livley, thought-provoking, and informative. Every biologist should read this book - ;'Power, Sex, Suicide is an enjoyable and readable book....anyone interested in the broader and more philosophical aspects of their discipline will profit from reading the book' - David G. Nicholls, Science;impressive....a polemical book...readable, provocative and often persuasive....This is an exciting and unusual book. - Jonathan Hodgkin, Times Literary Supplement

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User Review  - MarkBeronte - LibraryThing

If it weren't for mitochondria, scientists argue, we'd all still be single-celled bacteria. Indeed, these tiny structures inside our cells are important beyond imagining. Without mitochondria, we ... Read full review

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User Review  - cazmaestro - LibraryThing

I bought this book as, after attending a lecture by Dr Nick Lane, I found myself strangely interested in Mitochondria and how they're way more important than they're supposed to be. The book goes into ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Nick Lane studied biochemistry at Imperial College, University of London, and conducted his doctoral research on oxygen free-radicals and metabolic function in organ transplants at the Royal Free Hospital, London. Dr Lane is Honorary Reader at University College London and strategic directorat Adelphi Medi Cine, a medical multimedia company based in London. His first book, iOxygen: the molecule that made the world/i, was published to critical acclaim by Oxford University Press in 2002. His articles have been published in numerous international scientific journals, including ScientificAmerican, The Lancet and the British Medical Journal. He lives in London.

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