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Oxidative phosphorylation is a metabolic pathway that uses energy released by the oxidation of nutrients to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Although the many forms of life on Earth utilize a range of different nutrients, almost all carry out oxidative phosphorylation to produce ATP, the molecule that supplies energy to metabolism. This pathway is probably so pervasive because it is a highly efficient way of storing energy, compared to alternative fermentation processes such as glycolysis. During oxidative phosphorylation, electrons are transferred from electron donors to electron acceptors such as oxygen, in a redox reaction. This redox step releases energy, which is captured in the form of ATP. In eukaryotes these redox reactions are carried out by a series of protein complexes within mitochondria, whereas in prokaryotes, these proteins are located in the cells' inner membranes. These linked sets of enzymes are called electron transport chains.

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