Mitochondria are tiny structures within all our cells, believed to have once evolved from bacteria living independent lives. Drawing on cutting edge research, this book explores the fundamental role they play in some of the biggest themes in biology: evolution, the origin of the sexes, in growth, ageing, disease, and in death. - ;Power, Sex, Suicide, Complexity, Individuality, Fertility, Prehistory, Ageing, Death. These universal themes are all linked by mitochondria - the tiny structures located inside our cells - miniature powerhouses that use oxygen to generate power. There are hundreds of them in each cell, some 10 million billion in a human being. Once considered menial slaves, mere workhorses for complex cells with nuclei, their significance is now undergoing a radical revision. Mitochondria are now seen as the key ingredient that made complex life possible at all. For two billion years, bacteria ruled the earth without ever generating true complexity - a stasis that may still grip life on other planets. Then the union of two bacterial cells led to an evolutionary big bang, from which algae, fungi, plants and animals emerged. For mitochondria were once free-living bacteria, and still retain unmistakable traits of their ancestry, including some of their original DNA. Ever since their fateful absorption, the tortuous and unpredictable relationship between the mitochondria and their host cells has forced one evolutionary innovation after another. Without mitochondria, nothing would exist of the world we know and love. Their story is the story of life itself. Today, mitochondria are central to research into human prehistory, genetic diseases, cell suicide, fertility, ageing, bioenergetics, sex and the eukaryotic cell. Piecing together puzzles from the forefront of research, this book paints a sweeping canvas that will thrill all who are interested in biology, while also contributing to evolutionary thinking and debate. This is a book full of startling insights into the nature and evolution of life, and should be read by anyone who wants to know why we're here. - ;Challenging, but rewarding. - Observer;Full of startling insights into the nature and evolution of life as we know it. - Economist Best Books of the Year, 2005;An enthralling account...The author has accomplished something quite breathtaking...moreover,he brings the science alive...he is always accessible, livley, thought-provoking, and informative. Every biologist should read this book - ;'Power, Sex, Suicide is an enjoyable and readable book....anyone interested in the broader and more philosophical aspects of their discipline will profit from reading the book' - David G. Nicholls, Science;impressive....a polemical book...readable, provocative and often persuasive....This is an exciting and unusual book.