Metabolism: Cells Make Energy Through Digestion Of Simple Sugars

First Posted: Sep 29, 2015 01:33 PM EDT

Scientists are shedding light on the way in which our cells convert food into fuel--a common trait shared by just about every living organism.

They have determined how cells make energy from food through digestion of simple sugars, such as glucose, in a series of chemical reactions. This is a common procedure that is done for every kind of cell, including plants, animals and bacteria.

The study findings revealed that this process is one of the most effective used to extract energy. Cells that have more energy can grow and renew faster, allowing them and the organism that they belong to to have an evolutionary advantage.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh built complex computer models to have a better understanding as to why cells develop the pathways they use to convert sugar into energy. They also compared models of pathways found in animals and plants with alternative mechanisms that might have evolved instead, in addition to carrying out an exhaustive search for all possible alternatives to the known biological mechanisms, which have existed for billions of years.

Findings revealed that the metabolic systems have evolved because they enable cells to produce more energy, compared with alternative pathways.

"The key mechanisms that underpin metabolism are found in almost all plants and animals, and control the productivity of life on Earth, yet we understand little of how they came about," study author Dr Bartomiej Waclaw of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, said in a news release"This study shows that our metabolic pathway is a highly developed solution to the problem of how to extract energy from our food."

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the journal Nature Communications.

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