Organisms have developed unique and highly optimal strategies to cater for their energetic needs. In a recent study published in Nature, scientists from Helsinki University in collaboration with groups from Sweden and UK studied the bioenergetic machinery of a ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila.
Tetrahymena thermophila is a free-living single cell eukaryote found in ponds and lakes. First, cryo-electron microscopy and tomography were applied to obtain a high-resolution 3D structure of its bioenergetic supercomplex. The highly bent supercomplex structure imparts a strong curvature to the inner mitochondrial membrane of Tetrahymena thermophila. The membrane bending was studied by coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations performed by Outi Haapanen and Vivek Sharma (Computational Bioenergetics Group).
The membrane-supercomplex architecture provides a unique tubular structure to mitochondria of Tetrahymena thermophila, and serves its specialized functional requirements.