What are Peroxisomes?
Exciting research challenges
Despite 60 years of research worldwide, many questions have remained incompletely unanswered. How do peroxisomes develop when cells divide? How are damaged peroxisomes recognized and recycled? In some areas we have already learned a lot in the past years, but most likely just the tip of the iceberg. We still know little about the diversity of peroxisome functions. New unexpected roles of peroxisomes are uncovered year by year. For instance, peroxisomes are also involved in biotin biosynthesis and defence against pathogens. At first glance such basic research questions might seem unrelated to our real life. But only if we have understood in detail how this organelle works, we can identify bottlenecks and optimize and extend functions to secure and improve life on earth.
Small, everywhere and crucial for cell vitality
Peroxisomes are small organelles (or compartments, membrane-enclosed “rooms”) that occur in almost all cells – from a simple baker`s yeast cell to crop plants and humans. Peroxisomes are essential for cell vitality. For instance, people born with inherited peroxisome defects generally die rather early. Also, oily seeds of crop plants with damaged peroxisomes can no longer germinate and are inefficient in photosynthesis.
Peroxisomes were discovered about 60 years ago and initially called “microbodies” because of their small size (1 µm in diameter), which is in the range of bacteria. The small size and fragility of peroxisomes pose significant technical challenges in research laboratories. Therefore, research on peroxisomes has long been neglected compared to other cell organelles such as the cell nucleus, mitochondria or chloroplasts. Despite being small, peroxisomes are extremely important. Nearly all organisms are made of cells, and nearly all cells have and need peroxisomes, from beer- and penicillin-producing fungi, via cereals and biofuel plants to us humans.
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|Last modified:||16 November 2017 2.34 p.m.|