Mitochondria are the powerhouses of all animal and plant cells. These small semiautonomous units have their own DNA and proteins. They deliver the energy that drives our muscles, our brain and almost all life on earth.
Surprisingly, while we know much about animal mitochondria, plant mitochondria are a mystery. Harvey Millar, a 34 year old biochemist at the University of Western Australia, is changing that. He has already identified how plant mitochondria produce vitamin C and other antioxidants to protect cells from free radicals. He hopes that a better understanding of how mitochondria help plants handle stress will transform the way we breed plants to cope with drought, salt and other stresses. [continue reading…]