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mitochondria - Important parts of the biological cell, with each mitochondrion encased within a mitochondrial membrane. Mitochondria are best known for their role in energy production, earning them the nickname "the powerhouse of the cell". Mitochondria also participate in the detection of threats and the response to these threats. One of the responses to threats orchestrated by mitochondria is apoptosis, a cell suicide program used by cells when the threat can not be eliminated.