Question Video: Identifying the Relationship between Cell Activity and the Number of Mitochondria

Which of the following is correct about cell activity and the number of mitochondria? [A] The more active the cell, the lower the number of mitochondria. [B] There is no correlation between the activity of the cell and the number of mitochondria it contains. [C] The more active the cell, the higher the number of mitochondria.

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Video Transcript

Which of the following is correct about cell activity and the number of mitochondria? (A) The more active the cell, the lower the number of mitochondria. (B) There is no correlation between the activity of the cell and the number of mitochondria it contains. Or (C) the more active the cell, the higher the number of mitochondria.

This question is asking us to read each of the statements and to choose the one that is correct or true about the relationship between cell activity and the number of mitochondria. In order to visualize information regarding relationships, it’s often helpful to sketch a little graph. We’ll let the 𝑥-axis represent cell activity and the 𝑦-axis represent the number of mitochondria. Choice (A) states, the more active the cell, the lower the number of mitochondria. So we can expect this graph to look something like this. Choice (B) states that there’s no correlation between cell activity and mitochondria number. So we might expect a graph of this information to look like this. Choice (C) says the more active the cell, the higher the number of mitochondria. So we can expect a graph of this information to look something like this.

Well, what do we know about mitochondria? Recall that mitochondria are bean-shaped organelles found inside of almost all eukaryotic cells. Also recall that mitochondria are the site of cellular respiration, a process that converts oxygen and glucose into carbon dioxide and water, a process which releases energy. This energy is used to produce a molecule called ATP, which is used to power almost all cellular activities or functions. So if a cell is more active, it would require more energy, which is generated in the mitochondria.

So as cellular activity increases, you expect the cell’s need for energy to also increase. And since mitochondria produce cellular energy through cellular respiration, it’s also reasonable to expect their number to increase. So returning to our answer choices, the statement that’s correct about the relationship between cell activity and the number of mitochondria is the more active the cell, the higher the number of mitochondria.

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