Gnaiger 2022 Abstract Bioblasts

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Erich Gnaiger
Gnaiger Erich (2022) Bioblasts - the taxonomic unit of bioenergetics: mitochondria, aerobic bacteria, chloroplasts.
Bioblast 2022: BEC Inaugural Conference. In:
»Mitochondr Physiol Network 2010 - a Living Communication« »Watch the presentation«

Link: Bioblast 2022: BEC Inaugural Conference

Gnaiger Erich (2022)

Event: Bioblast 2022

Figure 1. Altmann (1894): Panel VII 1: Pancreas of the mouse, osmium mixtures. Panel VII 2: Intracellular symbiotic bacteria in root nodules of Coronilla glauca (leguminous plant) [1].

Richard Altmann (1894) observed granula in prokaryotes and eukaryotes stained with osmium for light microscopic analysis of symbiotic and free-living bacteria and of 'elementary organisms' in metazoan cells (Figure 1). He viewed ‘the protoplasm as a colony of bioblasts’ [1]. One of the — either forgotten or famous — quotes from his book on the 'Elementarorganismen' (p 141) introduces a phenomenological link between bacteria and the mitochondria, as they were called later: ‘Microorganisms and granula are at an equivalent level and represent elementary organisms, which are found wherever living forces are acting, thus we want to describe them by the common term bioblasts. In the bioblast, that morphological unit of living matter appears to be found’. Today, living matter is in the spotlight of environmentally concerned innovations [2].

In the signaling network of the cell, mitochondria are not merely passive receivers of centrally issued commands, but return messages to the cell including retrograde responses to the nucleus, death signals, communication through regulation of the adenylate energy state, redox balance, ROS buffering, and ion homoeostasis [3]. Endosymbiotic theories link the mitochondria and plastids to their free-living ancestors. Consequently, the mitochondrial and chloroplast identity is organismic, distinct from an organelle: they are bioblasts, they ‘represent elementary organisms’. This controversial proposition has been presented in 2010 when celebrating seven years of the Mitochondrial Physiology Society and the launch of the Bioblast website at the MiP2010 conference [4]. The present summary is a Living Communication with updates aimed at continuing and extending the discussion on bioblasts as the taxonomic unit of bioenergetics.

The Living Communication with a focus on Open Science, quality rather than quantity, and references in BEC https-format are a testimony to signatories of DORA. As a scientific journal Bioenergetics Communications does not propagate yesterday's concepts in the arena of traditional journals. We can do today's job much better [5].

The life event Bioblast 2022: BEC Inaugural Conference brings together scientists from various fields of mitochondrial and algal research. There is a strong focus on the mitochondrion in health and disease. This other organism in our cells is an alien, whether it was once called an ozonophore, bioblast, or now a mitochondrion. The term mitochondrial organism may signal the transition from a science on ‚mitochondria in health and disease’ to the study of ‚mitochondrial health’. Progress in our understanding of mitochondrial disease is tremendous, important, and staggering, with new dimensions emerging on successful therapies. Paradoxically, however, comparatively little has been achieved to provide quantitative and qualitative measures and functional criteria for defining mitochondrial health.

Figure 2. Odra Noel (2010): Hommage to pioneers I - Altmann's Bioblasts, MiPArt Gallery [4].

The term and concept of the bioblast looks at the parts or particles — microorganisms and granula, from free-living to symbiotic to intracellular endo-elementary organisms. The holobiont concept, in turn, focuses on the microbial-eukaryotic interactions and evolution, with symbiosis and the microbiome paving the way to endosymbiosis [6,7].

Odra Noel's MiPArt added another dimension of communication to Mitochondrial Physiology events, from her series 'Hommage to pioneers' (Figure 2) to Mitchell's dream [8]. Odra Noel's art opens up our minds for appreciation that the study of life transcends the limitations of science and science transcends the limitations of art. At Bioblast 2022, her focus is on the 'Krebs cycle that sits at the heart of metabolism' [9] and links mitochondrial pathways to respiratory control [10].

  1. Altmann R (1894) Die Elementarorganismen und ihre Beziehungen zu den Zellen. Zweite vermehrte Auflage (The elementary organisms and their relationships to the cells. Second extended edition). Verlag Von Veit & Comp, Leipzig. -
  2. Leone G, De la Cruz Valbuena G, Cicco SR, Vona D, Altamura E, Ragni R, Molotokaite E, Cecchin M, Cazzaniga S, Ballottari M, D'Andrea C, Lanzani G, Farinola GM (2021) Incorporating a molecular antenna in diatom microalgae cells enhances photosynthesis.
  3. Gnaiger E et al ― MitoEAGLE Task Group (2020) Mitochondrial physiology.
  4. Gnaiger E (2010) Seven years Mitochondrial Physiology Society and a welcome to MiP2010: Bioblasts – the aliens with permanent residence in our cells. -
  5. Gnaiger E (2021) Beyond counting papers – a mission and vision for scientific publication.
  6. Martin W, Kowallik K (1999) Annotated English translation of Mereschkowsky's 1905 paper ‘Über Natur und Ursprung der Chromatophoren im Pflanzenreiche’.
  7. Baedke J, Fábregas-Tejeda A, Nieves Delgado A (2020) The holobiont concept before Margulis.
  8. Odra Noel, Gnaiger E (2014) MiPArt - Mitchell's dream - Mitchell's equation. In: -
  9. Lane N (2022) Transformer: the deep chemistry of life and death. Profile Books:400 pp.
  10. Gnaiger E (2020) Mitochondrial pathways and respiratory control. An introduction to OXPHOS analysis. 5th ed.

O2k-Network Lab: AT Innsbruck Oroboros


Gnaiger Erich
Oroboros Instruments GmbH, Innsbruck, Austria - [email protected]

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