The discovery of the mitochondrion.


The mitochondrion is a spherical or elongated organelle in the cytoplasm of nearly all eukaryotic cells, containing genetic material and many enzymes important for cell metabolism, including those responsible for the conversion of food to usable energy[1].


The German pathologist and histologist Richard Altmann (1852-1900) discovered[2] mitochondria in 1890 after using a new staining technique that allowed him to observe fibrillar structures in the cytoplasm of nearly all cell types. He wrongly believed that granules made up fibrils hence he established that the fibrillar structures (most of which were mitochondria) were separate organelles. He called them “bioblasts”. Here are photomicrographs[3][4] of mitochondria by view of light microscope (phase-contrast microscope) and electron microscope respectively: 


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No portrait/photograph of Richard Altmann could be found.

  1. mitochondrion
  2., pages 123-125.
  4. path=mgh_ceb&name=Electron-micrograph-of-a-thin-section-through-the-pancreas-of.jpg&

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