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Why do mitochondria have their own genome? © Getty Images

Why do mitochondria have their own genome?

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Mitochondria are tiny chemical factories inside our cells, but the reason their blueprints are a bit different is down to bacteria.

Asked by: Caroline Ellis, Edinburgh

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Mitochondria are tiny chemical factories inside our cells. They have several roles, including extracting and storing energy from digested food. But they also have their own DNA, hinting at a once-independent existence. It’s thought that this reflects their origin as bacteria, which formed a symbiotic relationship with organisms about 2.4 billion years ago and then evolved into us.


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Authors

Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.

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