Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life” as Want to Read:
Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,871 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
If it weren't for mitochondria, scientists argue, we'd all still be single-celled bacteria. Indeed, these tiny structures inside our cells are important beyond imagining. Without mitochondria, we would have no cell suicide, no sculpting of embryonic shape, no sexes, no menopause, no aging.

In this fascinating and thought-provoking book, Nick Lane brings together the latest
...more
Paperback, 354 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Power, Sex, Suicide, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Power, Sex, Suicide

Community Reviews

(showing 1-10)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Riku Sayuj
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Rohini Nair, Soumya Sayujya
Recommended to Riku by: Jim

The subtitle of the book says “Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life” and the author tries very hard to match up to that high claim. The book promises to show us why mitochondria are the clandestine rulers of our world - the masters of power, sex, and suicide. In the end It does not quiet explain the meaning of life in the traditional terms but does put forward a very strong argument that life as we know it today owes a lot to those little symbiotes that inhabit every single cell in us. Yes, mito
...more
Lois Bujold
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Lois by: random internet review

Well, that was three days of dense, chewy fun that nonetheless did not quite break my teeth. If you have survived high school science, you can probably take this on and follow its arguments pretty well.

Molecular biology is probably one of the fastest-moving sciences of the early twenty-first century, and in writing a popular-style book about it, Lane is in the position of a man trying to shovel his driveway while it's still snowing. He makes a statement about Neanderthal genetics on page one, fo
...more
David
May 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology
This is a fabulous book, which I recommend to everybody with a strong interest in biology. Nick Lane is a working scientist, a biochemist, with a very impressive list of publications. His articles and books, written for the non-specialist, have won many awards.

The book focuses on the science, and is written almost like a detective story. Nick Lane continually asks "why" things happen the way they do. Sometimes he speculates on the answers, but he always clearly describes the logic he uses to ded
...more
Smellsofbikes
Apr 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely amazing book, one of the most informational things I've read in years. The down-side is that I found it difficult, intellectually, and I have a degree in the subject. I think if I didn't know microbiology, it would be overwhelming. But with that said, the book's focus is on the relationship between eukaryotic cells and their mitochondria. It covers two different scenarios in how archaeobacteria and bacteria may have merged to form eukaryotes (gradual symbiosis as a result o ...more
Tasha
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
In high school I learned that mitochondria were the powerhouses of the cell. They were once a seperate entity that somehow came to live inside another. They still have their own DNA and genes, divide on their own, and manage their own interests.While all of this is technically correct, the truth is much more subtle and amazing.

They are our powerhouses. They are also the defining reason we have two sexes and not one/zero (or 28,000), and they exterminate damaged and unruly cells (hence the title)
...more
Max
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Lane packs a lot of science into this excellent presentation of the origin and functioning of mitochondria. While the density may put off some readers, those with a strong interest in cell biology and evolution should enjoy it. Lane posits that symbiosis, not just natural section, is what enabled complex life to form. He points specifically to endosymbiosis, the theory that bacteria were transformed into mitochondria after being engulfed by archaea. Lane holds that unique circumstances make this ...more
Jafar
Jun 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
This isn’t really an easy read unless you already have a good background in molecular biology. Nonetheless, it’s a very fascinating subject and the author tries painstakingly to make it easier for the reader to understand the subject. Ok, so here’s my simple summary:

Mitochondria: They used to be bacteria that lived independently. Then they formed a symbiotic relationship with another one-celled organism. The combination eventually evolved into eukaryotes (cells with nucleus). All complex life fo
...more
Tanja Berg
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A perfectly interesting read, but absolutely not suitable as beach read. Left at about 2/3's when I started the Newsflesh trilogy instead. Two vacations later, I realize, that I'm never going to finish. The book in itself is absolutely readable and my failure to finish is not its fault.

I even remember something interesting from it: mitochondria has only been incorporated into cells once during life's existence on earth. Some cells don't have mitochondria, that's true, but that's because they've
...more
Jenny Brown
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An extremely informative book about the role of mitochondria in evolution. The author explains complex concepts in terms that make them very understandable. I came away learning a vast amount about the function of mitochondria and in the process quite a few of the scientific factoids that float around the diet research world about antioxidants, exercise, and uncoupling started to make sense.

This isn't a one idea book, like so many science bestsellers. You'll have to read it slowly and carefully
...more
Betsy
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Betsy by: GR Science & Inquiry Group
[11/17/2012; edited 12/11/12]
This was a fascinating book. As a severe non-scientist, I sometimes had a little trouble wading through the detailed explanation of how cells work. I sometimes got frustrated with the level of detail, wanting to get the bigger picture. And sometimes he explained the same thing in several different ways, with different metaphors, and different approaches. But it was worth it.

I don't know the author's background, but I felt he was like a particularly committed teacher,
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origin
  • The Epigenetics Revolution
  • Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life
  • At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea
  • Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine
  • Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution
  • Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet
  • The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss
  • Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
  • Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans' Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter
  • At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity
  • Brainstorm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences
  • March of the Microbes: Sighting the Unseen
  • Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World
  • The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene
21987
Dr Nick Lane is a British biochemist and writer. He was awarded the first Provost's Venture Research Prize in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, where he is now a Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry. Dr Lane’s research deals with evolutionary biochemistry and bioenergetics, focusing on the origin of life and the evolution of complex cells. Dr Lane w ...more
More about Nick Lane...
“To visualize this dance, the transparent components of the cell had to be coloured using a stain. As it happened, the stains that were best able to colour the chromosomes were acidic. Unfortunately, these stains tended to dissolve the mitochondria; their obsession with the nucleus meant that cytologists were simply dissolving the evidence. Other stains were ambivalent, colouring mitochondria only transiently, for the mitochondria themselves rendered the stain colourless. Their rather ghostly appearance and disappearance was scarcely conducive to firm belief. Finally Carl Benda demonstrated, in 1897, that mitochondria do have a corporeal existence in cells. He defined them as ‘granules, rods, or filaments in the cytoplasm of nearly all cells … which are destroyed by acids or fat solvents.’ His term, mitochondria (pronounced ‘my-toe-con-dree-uh’), was derived from the Greek mitos, meaning thread, and chondrin, meaning small grain. Although his name alone stood the test of time, it was then but one among many. Mitochondria have revelled in more than thirty magnificently obscure names, including chondriosomes, chromidia, chondriokonts, eclectosomes, histomeres, microsomes, plastosomes, polioplasma, and vibrioden.” 3 likes
“This was difficult to prove as most hydrogenosomes have lost their entire genome, but it is now established with some certainty.1 In other words, whatever bacteria entered into a symbiotic relationship in the first eukaryotic cell, its descendents numbered among them both mitochondria and hydrogenosomes.” 2 likes
More quotes…