Photosynthesis – What is it?
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants use the energy from sunlight to produce sugar, which cellular respiration converts into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the fuel used by all living things. The conversion of unusable sunlight energy into usable chemical energy is associated with the actions of the green pigment chlorophyll.
Most of the time, the photosynthetic process uses water and ends up releasing the oxygen that is critical to human respiration, and the respiration of almost all living non-plant organisms. It is an extremely complex process consisting of many coordinated biochemical reactions, and without it none of us would be alive today. As such, it is interesting and important to understand how photosynthesis works.
Photosynthesis – How it Works
Photosynthesis uses light energy and carbon dioxide to make triose phosphates (G3P). G3P is generally considered the prime end-product of photosynthesis. It can be used as an immediate food nutrient, or combined and rearranged to form monosaccharide sugars like glucose, which can be transported to other cells, or packaged for storage as insoluble polysaccharides such as starch.
Here is a general equation for photosynthesis:
6 CO2(gas) + 12 H2O(liquid) + photons → C6H12O6(aqueous) + 6 O2(gas) + 6 H2O(liquid)
carbon dioxide + water + light energy → glucose + oxygen + water
A more simplified equation is:
6 CO2(gas) + 6 H2O(liquid) + photons → C6H12O6(aqueous) + 6 O2(gas)
Although these equations may not mean much to non-mathematicians, they are still interesting to study and fairly easy to understand. They merely describe the process of the reactions.
Photosynthesis occurs in two stages. In the first phase light-dependent reactions or photosynthetic reactions capture the energy of light and use it to make high-energy molecules. During the second phase, the light-independent reactions use the high-energy molecules to capture carbon dioxide and make the precursors of carbohydrates.
In the light reactions one molecule of the pigment chlorophyll absorbs one photon and loses one electron. This electron excites pheophytin allowing the start of a flow of electrons down an electron transport chain that leads to the ultimate reduction of NADP (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate) into NADPH (the reduced form of NADP).
Most plants are photoautotrophic, which mean that they are able to synthesize food directly from inorganic compounds using light energy – for example from the sun, instead of eating other organisms or relying on nutrients derived from them. This is distinct from a chemoautotroph that does not depend on light energy, but use energy from inorganic compounds instead.
The energy for photosynthesis ultimately comes from absorbed photons and involves a reducing agent (water in plants) which releases oxygen as a waste product. It is this “waste product” that is critical to our own survival. In the loosest of terms, one could say that we breathe the flatulence of plants!
Photosynthesis –How the Presence of Plants Can Help Us
As mentioned above, photosynthesis is what keeps plants, and ultimately us, alive. As increasing numbers of plants are killed off due to human expansion, this process becomes a bit more limited. Although we’re in no danger of suffocating, there are still adverse effects to the atmosphere of the planet.
With fewer plants to participate in photosynthesis, less oxygen is produced and greater amounts of carbon dioxide fill the atmosphere. This results in the greenhouse effect becoming more powerful and increased levels of damage to the ozone layer.
Although it is difficult to do anything about this short of increasing knowledge about conservation efforts, there are still ways to take advantage of flowers and photosynthesis at home.
Photosynthesis – Plants at Home
Studies have proven that having plants inside the home can help to purify the air that we breathe. They filter out unwanted particles, reduce levels of carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen for us to breathe through photosynthesis. By including some plants in your home, you can enjoy cleaner air.
This can help eliminate the stuffy feeling that many homes acquire, and can liven up and even improve the health of those dwelling within. It’s also a viable strategy for use inside an office.
The best place to acquire plants for your home is the local florist. Stop by their shop and ask them about various varieties that would be great for the purpose of air purification. They’ll be willing and able to make informed and helpful suggestions that will be sure to help you out, and create a home atmosphere that you and your family will love.
A side of plants and flowers unrelated to photosynthesis is their cosmetic appeal. The florist is also a great place to pick out bouquets and floral arrangements for decoration or use as gifts. You can do this in person or online, and take advantage of delivery availability to send items to your home or to the homes of your friends and relatives.
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