Photosynthesis Process – An Overview

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Photosynthesis process 1

When we get hungry, we grab a snack from the pantry or refrigerator. But have you wondered what plants can do when they get hungry? You are probably aware that plants need water, sunlight, air, and a home (like soil) to grow, but where do they get their food? Well, they make it themselves with the help of the photosynthesis process! Life on earth depends on energy derived from the sun.

What is the Photosynthesis Process? 

Plants are known as autotrophs.  They can use energy from light to synthesize, or make, their food. Many people have the impression that they are “feeding” a plant when they put it in plant soil, water it, or place it outside in the Sun, but none of these things are considered food. On the contrary, plants use sunlight, water, and gases in the air to make glucose.

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Glucose is a form of sugar that plants need to survive. This process is called photosynthesis. All plants, algae, and even some microorganisms perform this process. Plants need three primary things: carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight, to perform photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process of biological importance that can harvest this energy.

Photosynthesis means synthesis using light. Photosynthetic organisms will use  solar energy to synthesize carbon compounds that cannot form without the input of the energy.

What Happens During the Photosynthesis Process?

Photosynthesis is an anabolic, endergonic process by which green plants synthesize carbohydrates. Plants require carbon dioxide, pigments, water, and sunlight for the process. Therefore, we can say that photosynthesis is the transformation of solar energy or light energy into chemical energy.

By taking in water through the roots, carbon dioxide from the air, and light energy from the Sun, plants can perform photosynthesis to make glucose and oxygen. IN simple terms, it is the process by which plants use water and carbon dioxide to create their food, grow and release excess oxygen in the air.

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Photosynthesis is how green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into chemical energy. Light energy is captured and used during photosynthesis in green plants to convert water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into oxygen and energy-rich organic compounds. Humidity in Dubai could be a vital factor.

What Are the Requirements During the Photosynthesis Process?

Just like us, the plants need to take in gasses to live. Animals take in gasses through a process of respiration. During the respiration process, animals inhale all of the gasses in the atmosphere. Plants only retain oxygen and do not exhale it immediately. On the other hand, Plants take in and use carbon dioxide gas for photosynthesis.

Carbon dioxide enters through tiny holes in plant’s leaves, branches, flowers, stems, and roots. Plants require water to make their food. A plant’s access to water will vary depending on the env.

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Cactus, desert plants have less available water than a lilypad in a pond. Still, every photosynthetic organism has some adaptation, or unique structure, designed to collect water. For most plants, roots are responsible for moisture absorption. The last requirement for photosynthesis is essential because it provides the energy to make sugar. 

So, how does a plant take water and carbon dioxide and make food? The Sun! The energy from the light causes a chemical reaction that breaks down the molecules of water and carbon dioxide and reorganizes them to make glucose and oxygen gas.

The plant’s mitochondria break down the glucose it produces to produce energy. The plant releases this energy from the tiny holes through which the carbon dioxide had entered earlier.

Chemical Equation of Photosynthesis

The oxygen released serves another purpose. Animals use oxygen to aid their survival. 

If we were to write the equation  for photosynthesis, it would look like this: 

6CO2 + 6H2O + Light energy → C6H12O6 (sugar) + 6O2 

The complete process of photosynthesis is actually a transfer of energy from the Sun to a plant. In each glucose molecule created, there is a little bit of the energy from the Sun, which the plant can either use or store for later. 

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Consider the case of a pea plant. If the pea plant is forming new pods, it requires much sugar energy to grow larger. This is similar to eating food to grow taller and more robust. But instead of going to the store and buying groceries, the pea plant will use sunlight to obtain the energy to build glucose. When the pea pods have fully grown, the plant may no longer need as much glucose and will store it in its cells. A hungry rabbit comes along and decides to eat some plant portions.

Thus, the plant provides the rabbit’s energy to hop back to its home. Now, where did the rabbit got it’s energy? Consider the process of photosynthesis. With the help of water and carbon dioxide, the peapod used the energy from sunlight to construct the glucose molecules. When the rabbit ate the pea pod, it indirectly received energy from sunlight. This gets stored in the glucose molecules in the plant. There we can thank the photosynthesis process for the bread! 

Where Does Photosynthesis Occur?

Photosynthesis in plants occurs in their cells in specialized structures called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts are organelles in plant cells that consist of 3 membrane systems, the inner, outer, and thylakoid membranes. Both external and internal membranes keep foreign pathogens out. These membranes allow the transport of required nutrients into the chloroplasts.

The space between these membranes get filled with a high-protein fluid substance called the stroma. Suspended throughout the stroma in a chloroplast are a collection of membranous sacs called thylakoids.

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Embedded directly in these thylakoid membranes are the light-absorbing chlorophyll pigments. Thylakoids tend to stack on top of one another. Therefore, creating cellular complexes called grana, which are the main sites of photosynthesis in plant cells.

Carbon dioxide enters the plant through tiny pores on the leaves called a stoma. Photosynthetic reactions occur. The release of oxygen into the air takes place from the stoma. These reactions take place inside the stroma of the chloroplasts.

The most common and critical process of photosynthesis takes place in the chlorophyll‐containing plants and algae. Those plants that do not contain chlorophyll cannot produce their own food. Plants capture radiant energy of the sun and, by utilizing carbon dioxide and water to convert chemical energy stored in molecules of carbohydrates. Finally producing food for the whole plant.

Significance of Photosynthesis Process

  1. Photosynthesis is an essentially natural process that sustains plant life on earth.
  1. The photosynthesis process is unique to autotrophic and green plants. The process generates organic food from inorganic raw materials.
  1. All heterotrophic plants and animals depend upon the green plants for their organic food. Therefore, the green plants are called producers. While all other organisms are called as consumers.
  1. Photosynthesis converts solar or radiant energy into chemical energy. The chemical energy gets stored in the organic food as bonds between different atoms. Photosynthetic products provide energy to all organisms to carry out their life activities.
  2. Petroleum , Coal, and natural gas are fossil fuels produced by applying compression and heat on the past plant and animal parts in the deeper layers of the earth. These are vital energy sources. 
  3. All useful plant products are derived from photosynthesis, e.g, resins, timber, rubber, oils, fibers, drugs, amongst others..
  4. Photosynthesis is the only known method by which oxygen is added to the atmosphere. This compensates for oxygen being used in the respiration of organisms and the burning of organic fuels. 

          Oxygen is essential in 

          (a) efficient utilization and complete breakdown of the respiratory substrate

          (b) formation of ozone in stratosphere that filters out and prevents harmful ultra violet radiations from reaching the earth.

  1. Photosynthesis reduces the concentration of carbon dioxide. This gets added to the atmosphere by the respiration of organisms and the burning of organic fuels. A higher concentration of carbon dioxide is poisonous to living beings.
  1. Productivity of crops depends upon the rate of photosynthesis. Therefore, scientists are busy genetically manipulating crops.

Magnitude of Photosynthesis

Photosynthetic organisms utilize only 0.2% of light energy falling on earth. The total carbon dioxide available to plants for photosynthesis is about 11.2 x 1014 tones. Subsequently, out of this only 2.2 x 1013 tonnes are present in the atmosphere @ 0.03%. Oceans contain 11 x 1014 (110,000 billion) tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Annually terrestrial and aquatic autotrophs fix about 70 to 80 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and they produce nearly 1700 million tonnes of dry organic matter. In addition, the land plants produce about 10% (170 million tones) of dry matter and rest by ocean (about 90%).

Bottom Line

Humans, fungi, and some microorganisms other animals, cannot make food in their bodies like autotrophs. But they actually rely on photosynthesis. Consequently, by transferring the energy from the Sun to plants, the plants build up glucose that we humans consume to drive our daily activities.

Even when we eat chicken or fish, we are transferring the energy from the Sun into our bodies. This is probably because, at some point, one organism has consumed a photosynthetic organism (like the fish ate algae). Therefore, the next time when you grab a snack to replenish your energy, do not forget the Sun for it! 

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