Do Cytoplasm Have Mitochondria? 7 Facts You Should Know

In eukaryotic cells, mitochondria take up a significant amount of area of the cytoplasmic volume. Let us learn more facts about this in detail.

Mitochondria are located within the cytoplasm of the eukaryotic cells. These organelles help to generate ATP which is the cellular power and are suspended freely physically by a double membrane in the cytoplasmic environment. They are very necessary for the development of complex animals.

Mitochondria also heavily rely on the chemicals and proteins found in the cytoplasm that surrounds them. Perhaps the best example of this is the fact that the vast majority of mitochondrially-localized proteins are synthesized in the cytoplasm and encoded in the nucleus. Without these proteins, mitochondria cannot function at all.

Where are mitochondria located in cytoplasm?

For a number of additional reasons, it appears that the ideal perspective may be to think of the mitochondria as little cells present in cytoplasm. Let us know more in detail.

Mitochondria are suspended within the gel portion of cytoplasm of the eukaryotic cells along with other organelles of the cell which is known as the cytosol.

Inside the cytoplasm, mitochondria consist of double membranes. The outer membrane and inner membrane are made up of many special proteins known as porins and layers of phospholipid. These two layers are again separated by the intermembrane space.

Why are mitochondria located in the cytoplasm?

Mitochondria are found within the cytoplasm of the cells that respire aerobically (respiration in presence of oxygen). Let us see the reasons behind this fact in detail.

Mitochondria are located within the cytoplasm because it is thought that mitochondria did not initially belong to the cell and instead entered the cell from the outside during the process of evolution. Via mutually beneficial connection with other cells, they became an integrated part of a cell.

1280px Mitochondrion structure.svg
Image Credit: Mitochondria- Wikipedia

Mitochondria were formerly autonomous cells that could produce energy. As a result, mitochondria have their own nuclei. Since the nuclear pores are unable to accommodate such a large organelle inside the nucleus, mitochondria exist outside of it. This is why, a mitochondrion is able to generate its individual protein from that DNA.

How do mitochondria and cytoplasm work together?

Mitochondria works with cytoplasm to produce energy or ATP. Let us see how this happens.

The steps given below shows the working principle of mitochondria along with cytoplasm:

  • Inside cytoplasm, pyruvate is generated by the reactions which is important for the link reaction to take place.
  • Glucose consists of 2 molecules of phosphate that are attached to each of the terminal end of the linear molecule in order to produce 1,6 bis-phosphate.
  • This gets separated in two parts to get two molecules of pyruvate. Pyruvate will pass through cytoplasm and reach the intermembrane space of mitochondria.
  • In this step, the link reaction or connective reaction, that is, Krebs and oxidative phosphorylation takes place that produce ATP along with some other necessary products also.
  • This ATP can flow through the cytoplasm in order to carry out cell reactions that are in need of energy.
  • The outer membrane allows the ATP to filter out the waste components that are present surrounding the cytoplasm.
  • The inner membrane plays a role of a barrier that enables mitochondria to produce a “potential gradient”, or essentially a voltage, through a variance in proton concentrations.
  • In this way, mitochondria and cytoplasm stimulate the growth of the cells by producing ATP which is the standard unit of energy.

Difference between mitochondria and cytoplasm

Though mitochondria and cytoplasm work together for the better functioning of a cell, they have differences as well. Let us see what they are.

Given below are some of the differences between mitochondria and cytoplasm:

Cytoplasm Mitochondria
Cytoplasm is found in the cell in the middle of cell membrane and nuclear membrane. Mitochondria is part of the cytoplasm that is situated within it.
Cytoplasm helps in providing shape, volume and structure of the cell. Mitochondria takes part in the process of generating energy or ATP.
Cytoplasm do not have a definite structure instead have a thick gel like consistency Mitochondria have particular shape of their own
Cytoplasm do not have any membrane of its own Mitochondria is a double membrane cell organelle
Cytoplasm is a solution of many proteins, cytosol, cytoplasmic inclusions along with the other organelles of cells mixed in it Mitochondria have their own kind of matrix which is bounded inside its double membrane
Cytoplasm contains all the metabolic reactions that takes place in a cell Mitochondria’s main function is to provide energy to the host cell
Due to the numerous metabolic processes occurring inside the cell, the cytoplasmic matrix (cytosol) may change from being fluid (sol) to elastic (gel), and vice versa No such exchange is seen in the cell organelles (exchange occurs under certain situations but it is very rare)
Waste materials are eliminated via exocytosis with or without any help from any other cell organelles that are dispersed in the cytoplasm Mitochondria simply export their wastes to the cytoplasm, rather than storing them inside where they will soon be expelled out of the cell
Cytoplasm remains there and helps in the processes of mitosis and meiosis during cell division Mitochondria disappear during cell division and only reappear just before the process of cytokinesis
Difference between mitochondria and cytoplasm

How many mitochondria can a cytoplasm have?

The number of mitochondria found in a cell can vary globally depending on the organism, cell type or even the tissue. Let us discuss more about the fact in detail.

The number of mitochondria in cytoplasm can vary from a few to several hundred, depending on the cell types’ need for energy.

For instance, mature red blood cell and the terminal keratinocytes of the skin epidermis do not contain any mitochondria, while a liver cell can contain up to two thousand mitochondria in them.

Functions of mitochondria in cytoplasm

Functions of mitochondria in the cells are vital as they help in various ways that allow cells to perform certain programs. Let us know its functions in detail.

The production of energy through the processes of oxidative phosphorylation and the electron transport chain is the primary function of mitochondria.

Some of the major functions of mitochondria in cytoplasm are:

  1. Mitochondria helps in converting energy-
  • The most important part of mitochondria in a cell is to produce ATP (energy) by the process of cellular respiration
  • Mitochondria with the help of oxygen present inside the cell convert chemical energy from food into ATP
  • This ATP is used in the form of energy by the host cell

2. Citric acid cycle in mitochondrial matrix-

  • The biochemical reactions that take place during ATP production altogether is known as the citric acid cycle
  • This process is also popularly known as the Krebs cycle or the tricarboxylic acid cycle or the TCA cycle
  • The reaction take place in the matrix of mitochondria and thus produces a chemical known as the NADH

3. Mitochondria determine a cell live or dead-

  • Mitochondria generate energy through which they are able to check cells stay alive or not, by a process known as apoptosis
  • It acts like control room in the cell that collects various information such as pro- or anti-apoptotic stimuli, thus determining whether the cell should live or not.

4. Helps in regulating the metabolic activity in the cell

5. Helps in promoting the growth of new cells and multiplication of the cell

6. Helps in the “digestive system” of the cell

7. Aids in the liver cells’ ability to eliminate ammonia

8. Mitochondria store calcium-

  • Calcium is an important ion that is necessary for cellular processes
  • Mitochondria play a part by swiftly take up calcium ions and store them until they are required
  • Mitochondria also helps in regulating the calcium concentration within the cells

9. Mitochondria generate ROS-

  • During the process of mitochondrial metabolism, they generate reactive oxygen species (ROSs), also known as free radicals as the side products
  • These ROSs can be used by the cells in a way to signal the molecules to destroy bacteria
  • But high dosages of ROSs can damage DNA, proteins, and lipids

10. Involved in the production of a number of hormones, such as oestrogen and testosterone, as well as particular blood components

11. It also plays a role in cell proliferation as well as functions like cell differentiation, cell signalling, cell senescence, and cycle control

12. Mitochondria produce heat-

  • Human body can generate heat by a non-shivering thermogenesis via a tissue known as brown fat.
  • Brown fat consist of a greater number of mitochondria as compared to white fat. These mitochondria are somewhat different in type.
  • These mitochondria instead of producing ATP as the end result of electron transfer chain, they ‘leak” the protons in the brown fat cells, that is, brown adipocytes.
  • Thus, there is uncoupling of proteins and heat is generated.
  • These mitochondria are referred to as the “engines” of the brown fat as they are responsible for burning the calories that produce heat.

How are cytoplasm and mitochondria related?

Cytoplasm and mitochondria present in the cell work simultaneously with each other. Let us see more about how they are related.

In a cell, cytoplasm and mitochondria can be related in the following ways:

  • Mitochondrion is one of the important parts of cytoplasm in a cell.
  • Cytoplasm of the eukaryotic cells is the gel like substance that consist of different cell organelles that includes mitochondria, ribosomes, Golgi bodies in it.
  • Mitochondria are suspended in the surface of the gel portion of cytoplasm which is known as the cytosol.

Are mitochondria found in all cytoplasm?

Mitochondria are found in nearly all aerobic cells. The presence of chloroplasts in plant cells is the only difference between them and animal cells. Let us move forward with it.

Mitochondria are found in all cytoplasm. The Krebs cycle, which aids in the creation of ATP, is the mechanism by which mitochondria in both plant and animal cells produce cellular energy.

1280px Citric acid cycle with aconitate 2.svg
Image credit: Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle- Wikipedia

These mitochondria are generally the colorless cell organelles that are widely dispersed on the cytoplasmic surface. There are no mitochondria in bacteria, some prokaryotic cells, or mature erythrocytes (also known as RBCs) of eukaryotes.


However, time-lapse microcinematography of living cells reveals that mitochondria are incredibly dynamic and changeable organelles, altering their shape continuously and even fusing with each other before separating again. Modern day animal cells would be entirely reliant on anaerobic glycolysis to produce ATP if mitochondria were not there.

Also Read: