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10.3: Overview of Photosynthesis - Biology

10.3: Overview of Photosynthesis - Biology


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Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Summarize the process of photosynthesis
  • Explain the relevance of photosynthesis to other living things
  • Identify the reactants and products of photosynthesis
  • Describe the main structures involved in photosynthesis

All living organisms on earth consist of one or more cells. Each cell runs on the chemical energy found mainly in carbohydrate molecules (food), and the majority of these molecules are produced by one process: photosynthesis. Through photosynthesis, certain organisms convert solar energy (sunlight) into chemical energy, which is then used to build carbohydrate molecules. The energy used to hold these molecules together is released when an organism breaks down food. Cells then use this energy to perform work, such as cellular respiration.

The energy that is harnessed from photosynthesis enters the ecosystems of our planet continuously and is transferred from one organism to another. Therefore, directly or indirectly, the process of photosynthesis provides most of the energy required by living things on earth.

Photosynthesis also results in the release of oxygen into the atmosphere. In short, to eat and breathe, humans depend almost entirely on the organisms that carry out photosynthesis.

Solar Dependence and Food Production

Some organisms can carry out photosynthesis, whereas others cannot. An autotroph is an organism that can produce its own food. The Greek roots of the word autotroph mean “self” (auto) “feeder” (troph). Plants are the best-known autotrophs, but others exist, including certain types of bacteria and algae (Figure 1). Oceanic algae contribute enormous quantities of food and oxygen to global food chains. Plants are also photoautotrophs, a type of autotroph that uses sunlight and carbon from carbon dioxide to synthesize chemical energy in the form of carbohydrates. All organisms carrying out photosynthesis require sunlight.

Heterotrophs are organisms incapable of photosynthesis that must therefore obtain energy and carbon from food by consuming other organisms. The Greek roots of the word heterotroph mean “other” (hetero) “feeder” (troph), meaning that their food comes from other organisms. Even if the food organism is another animal, this food traces its origins back to autotrophs and the process of photosynthesis. Humans are heterotrophs, as are all animals. Heterotrophs depend on autotrophs, either directly or indirectly. Deer and wolves are heterotrophs. A deer obtains energy by eating plants. A wolf eating a deer obtains energy that originally came from the plants eaten by that deer. The energy in the plant came from photosynthesis, and therefore it is the only autotroph in this example (Figure 2). Using this reasoning, all food eaten by humans also links back to autotrophs that carry out photosynthesis.

Try It

Photosynthesis at the Grocery Store

Major grocery stores in the United States are organized into departments, such as dairy, meats, produce, bread, cereals, and so forth. Each aisle contains hundreds, if not thousands, of different products for customers to buy and consume (Figure 3).

Although there is a large variety, each item links back to photosynthesis. Meats and dairy products link to photosynthesis because the animals were fed plant-based foods. The breads, cereals, and pastas come largely from grains, which are the seeds of photosynthetic plants. What about desserts and drinks? All of these products contain sugar—the basic carbohydrate molecule produced directly from photosynthesis. The photosynthesis connection applies to every meal and every food a person consumes.

Main Structures and Summary of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis requires sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water as starting reactants (Figure 4). After the process is complete, photosynthesis releases oxygen and produces carbohydrate molecules, most commonly glucose. These sugar molecules contain the energy that living things need to survive.

The complex reactions of photosynthesis can be summarized by the chemical equation shown in Figure 5.

Although the equation looks simple, the many steps that take place during photosynthesis are actually quite complex, as in the way that the reaction summarizing cellular respiration represented many individual reactions. Before learning the details of how photoautotrophs turn sunlight into food, it is important to become familiar with the physical structures involved.

In plants, photosynthesis takes place primarily in leaves, which consist of many layers of cells and have differentiated top and bottom sides. The process of photosynthesis occurs not on the surface layers of the leaf, but rather in a middle layer called the mesophyll (Figure 6). The gas exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen occurs through small, regulated openings called stomata.

In all autotrophic eukaryotes, photosynthesis takes place inside an organelle called a chloroplast. In plants, chloroplast-containing cells exist in the mesophyll. Chloroplasts have a double (inner and outer) membrane. Within the chloroplast is a third membrane that forms stacked, disc-shaped structures called thylakoids. Embedded in the thylakoid membrane are molecules of chlorophyll, a pigment (a molecule that absorbs light) through which the entire process of photosynthesis begins. Chlorophyll is responsible for the green color of plants. The thylakoid membrane encloses an internal space called the thylakoid space. Other types of pigments are also involved in photosynthesis, but chlorophyll is by far the most important. As shown in Figure 6, a stack of thylakoids is called a granum, and the space surrounding the granum is called stroma (not to be confused with stomata, the openings on the leaves).

Try It

On a hot, dry day, plants close their stomata to conserve water. What impact will this have on photosynthesis?

The Two Parts of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis takes place in two stages: the light-dependent reactions and the Calvin cycle. In the light-dependent reactions, which take place at the thylakoid membrane, chlorophyll absorbs energy from sunlight and then converts it into chemical energy with the use of water. The light-dependent reactions release oxygen from the hydrolysis of water as a byproduct. In the Calvin cycle, which takes place in the stroma, the chemical energy derived from the light-dependent reactions drives both the capture of carbon in carbon dioxide molecules and the subsequent assembly of sugar molecules. The two reactions use carrier molecules to transport the energy from one to the other. The carriers that move energy from the light-dependent reactions to the Calvin cycle reactions can be thought of as “full” because they bring energy. After the energy is released, the “empty” energy carriers return to the light-dependent reactions to obtain more energy.

Section Summary

The process of photosynthesis transformed life on earth. By harnessing energy from the sun, photosynthesis allowed living things to access enormous amounts of energy. Because of photosynthesis, living things gained access to sufficient energy, allowing them to evolve new structures and achieve the biodiversity that is evident today.

Only certain organisms, called autotrophs, can perform photosynthesis; they require the presence of chlorophyll, a specialized pigment that can absorb light and convert light energy into chemical energy. Photosynthesis uses carbon dioxide and water to assemble carbohydrate molecules (usually glucose) and releases oxygen into the air. Eukaryotic autotrophs, such as plants and algae, have organelles called chloroplasts in which photosynthesis takes place.

A Open Assessments element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here: pb.libretexts.org/fob2/?p=116

Additional Self Check Questions

1. On a hot, dry day, plants close their stomata to conserve water. What impact will this have on photosynthesis?

2. What is the overall purpose of the light reactions in photosynthesis?

3. Why are carnivores, such as lions, dependent on photosynthesis to survive?

Answers

1. Levels of carbon dioxide (a reactant) will fall, and levels of oxygen (a product) will rise. As a result, the rate of photosynthesis will slow down.

2. To convert solar energy into chemical energy that cells can use to do work.

3. Because lions eat animals that eat plants.

Try It

autotroph: an organism capable of producing its own food

chlorophyll: the green pigment that captures the light energy that drives the reactions of photosynthesis

chloroplast: the organelle where photosynthesis takes place

granum: a stack of thylakoids located inside a chloroplast

heterotroph: an organism that consumes other organisms for food

light-dependent reaction: the first stage of photosynthesis where visible light is absorbed to form two energy-carrying molecules (ATP and NADPH)

mesophyll: the middle layer of cells in a leaf

photoautotroph: an organism capable of synthesizing its own food molecules (storing energy), using the energy of light

pigment: a molecule that is capable of absorbing light energy

stoma: the opening that regulates gas exchange and water regulation between leaves and the environment; plural: stomata

stroma: the fluid-filled space surrounding the grana inside a chloroplast where the Calvin cycle reactions of photosynthesis take place

thylakoid: a disc-shaped membranous structure inside a chloroplast where the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis take place using chlorophyll embedded in the membranes


Overview of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is essential to all life on earth both plants and animals depend on it. It is the only biological process that can capture energy that originates in outer space (sunlight) and convert it into chemical compounds (carbohydrates) that every organism uses to power its metabolism. In brief, the energy of sunlight is captured and used to energize electrons, which are then stored in the covalent bonds of sugar molecules. How long lasting and stable are those covalent bonds? The energy extracted today by the burning of coal and petroleum products represents sunlight energy captured and stored by photosynthesis almost 200 million years ago.

Plants, algae, and a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria are the only organisms capable of performing photosynthesis ([link]). Because they use light to manufacture their own food, they are called photoautotrophs (literally, “self-feeders using light”). Other organisms, such as animals, fungi, and most other bacteria, are termed heterotrophs (“other feeders”), because they must rely on the sugars produced by photosynthetic organisms for their energy needs. A third very interesting group of bacteria synthesize sugars, not by using sunlight’s energy, but by extracting energy from inorganic chemical compounds hence, they are referred to as chemoautotrophs.

The importance of photosynthesis is not just that it can capture sunlight’s energy. A lizard sunning itself on a cold day can use the sun’s energy to warm up. Photosynthesis is vital because it evolved as a way to store the energy in solar radiation (the “photo-” part) as high-energy electrons in the carbon-carbon bonds of carbohydrate molecules (the “-synthesis” part). Those carbohydrates are the energy source that heterotrophs use to power the synthesis of ATP via respiration. Therefore, photosynthesis powers 99 percent of Earth’s ecosystems. When a top predator, such as a wolf, preys on a deer ([link]), the wolf is at the end of an energy path that went from nuclear reactions on the surface of the sun, to light, to photosynthesis, to vegetation, to deer, and finally to wolf.

Main Structures and Summary of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a multi-step process that requires sunlight, carbon dioxide (which is low in energy), and water as substrates ([link]). After the process is complete, it releases oxygen and produces glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (GA3P), simple carbohydrate molecules (which are high in energy) that can subsequently be converted into glucose, sucrose, or any of dozens of other sugar molecules. These sugar molecules contain energy and the energized carbon that all living things need to survive.

The following is the chemical equation for photosynthesis ([link]):

Although the equation looks simple, the many steps that take place during photosynthesis are actually quite complex. Before learning the details of how photoautotrophs turn sunlight into food, it is important to become familiar with the structures involved.

In plants, photosynthesis generally takes place in leaves, which consist of several layers of cells. The process of photosynthesis occurs in a middle layer called the mesophyll. The gas exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen occurs through small, regulated openings called stomata (singular: stoma), which also play roles in the regulation of gas exchange and water balance. The stomata are typically located on the underside of the leaf, which helps to minimize water loss. Each stoma is flanked by guard cells that regulate the opening and closing of the stomata by swelling or shrinking in response to osmotic changes.

In all autotrophic eukaryotes, photosynthesis takes place inside an organelle called a chloroplast. For plants, chloroplast-containing cells exist in the mesophyll. Chloroplasts have a double membrane envelope (composed of an outer membrane and an inner membrane). Within the chloroplast are stacked, disc-shaped structures called thylakoids. Embedded in the thylakoid membrane is chlorophyll, a pigment (molecule that absorbs light) responsible for the initial interaction between light and plant material, and numerous proteins that make up the electron transport chain. The thylakoid membrane encloses an internal space called the thylakoid lumen. As shown in [link], a stack of thylakoids is called a granum, and the liquid-filled space surrounding the granum is called stroma or “bed” (not to be confused with stoma or “mouth,” an opening on the leaf epidermis).

On a hot, dry day, plants close their stomata to conserve water. What impact will this have on photosynthesis?

The Two Parts of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis takes place in two sequential stages: the light-dependent reactions and the light independent-reactions. In the light-dependent reactions, energy from sunlight is absorbed by chlorophyll and that energy is converted into stored chemical energy. In the light-independent reactions, the chemical energy harvested during the light-dependent reactions drive the assembly of sugar molecules from carbon dioxide. Therefore, although the light-independent reactions do not use light as a reactant, they require the products of the light-dependent reactions to function. In addition, several enzymes of the light-independent reactions are activated by light. The light-dependent reactions utilize certain molecules to temporarily store the energy: These are referred to as energy carriers. The energy carriers that move energy from light-dependent reactions to light-independent reactions can be thought of as “full” because they are rich in energy. After the energy is released, the “empty” energy carriers return to the light-dependent reaction to obtain more energy. [link] illustrates the components inside the chloroplast where the light-dependent and light-independent reactions take place.

Click the link to learn more about photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis at the Grocery Store

Major grocery stores in the United States are organized into departments, such as dairy, meats, produce, bread, cereals, and so forth. Each aisle ([link]) contains hundreds, if not thousands, of different products for customers to buy and consume.

Although there is a large variety, each item links back to photosynthesis. Meats and dairy link, because the animals were fed plant-based foods. The breads, cereals, and pastas come largely from starchy grains, which are the seeds of photosynthesis-dependent plants. What about desserts and drinks? All of these products contain sugar—sucrose is a plant product, a disaccharide, a carbohydrate molecule, which is built directly from photosynthesis. Moreover, many items are less obviously derived from plants: For instance, paper goods are generally plant products, and many plastics (abundant as products and packaging) are derived from algae. Virtually every spice and flavoring in the spice aisle was produced by a plant as a leaf, root, bark, flower, fruit, or stem. Ultimately, photosynthesis connects to every meal and every food a person consumes.

Section Summary

The process of photosynthesis transformed life on Earth. By harnessing energy from the sun, photosynthesis evolved to allow living things access to enormous amounts of energy. Because of photosynthesis, living things gained access to sufficient energy that allowed them to build new structures and achieve the biodiversity evident today.

Only certain organisms, called photoautotrophs, can perform photosynthesis they require the presence of chlorophyll, a specialized pigment that absorbs certain portions of the visible spectrum and can capture energy from sunlight. Photosynthesis uses carbon dioxide and water to assemble carbohydrate molecules and release oxygen as a waste product into the atmosphere. Eukaryotic autotrophs, such as plants and algae, have organelles called chloroplasts in which photosynthesis takes place, and starch accumulates. In prokaryotes, such as cyanobacteria, the process is less localized and occurs within folded membranes, extensions of the plasma membrane, and in the cytoplasm.

Art Connections

[link] On a hot, dry day, plants close their stomata to conserve water. What impact will this have on photosynthesis?

[link] Levels of carbon dioxide (a necessary photosynthetic substrate) will immediately fall. As a result, the rate of photosynthesis will be inhibited.

Review Questions

Which of the following components is not used by both plants and cyanobacteria to carry out photosynthesis?

What two main products result from photosynthesis?

  1. oxygen and carbon dioxide
  2. chlorophyll and oxygen
  3. sugars/carbohydrates and oxygen
  4. sugars/carbohydrates and carbon dioxide

In which compartment of the plant cell do the light-independent reactions of photosynthesis take place?

Which statement about thylakoids in eukaryotes is not correct?

  1. Thylakoids are assembled into stacks.
  2. Thylakoids exist as a maze of folded membranes.
  3. The space surrounding thylakoids is called stroma.
  4. Thylakoids contain chlorophyll.

Free Response

What is the overall outcome of the light reactions in photosynthesis?

The outcome of light reactions in photosynthesis is the conversion of solar energy into chemical energy that the chloroplasts can use to do work (mostly anabolic production of carbohydrates from carbon dioxide).

Why are carnivores, such as lions, dependent on photosynthesis to survive?

Because lions eat animals that eat plants.

Why are energy carriers thought of as either “full” or “empty”?

The energy carriers that move from the light-dependent reaction to the light-independent one are “full” because they bring energy. After the energy is released, the “empty” energy carriers return to the light-dependent reaction to obtain more energy. There is not much actual movement involved. Both ATP and NADPH are produced in the stroma where they are also used and reconverted into ADP, Pi, and NADP + .

Glossary


10.3: Overview of Photosynthesis - Biology

In this section, you will explore the following questions:

  • What is the relevance of photosynthesis to living organisms?
  • What are the main cellular structures involved in photosynthesis?
  • What are the substrates and products of photosynthesis?

Connection for AP ® Courses

As we learned in Chapter 7, all living organisms, from simple bacteria to complex plants and animals, require free energy to carry out cellular processes, such as growth and reproduction. Organisms use various strategies to capture, store, transform, and transfer free energy, including photosynthesis. Photosynthesis allows organisms to access enormous amounts of free energy from the sun and transform it to the chemical energy of sugars. Although all organisms carry out some form of cellular respiration, only certain organisms, called photoautotrophs, can perform photosynthesis. Examples of photoautotrophs include plants, algae, some unicellular eukaryotes, and cyanobacteria. They require the presence of chlorophyll, a specialized pigment that absorbs certain wavelengths of the visible light spectrum to harness free energy from the sun. Photosynthesis is a process where components of water and carbon dioxide are used to assemble carbohydrate molecules and where oxygen waste products are released into the atmosphere. In eukaryotes, the reactions of photosynthesis occur in chloroplasts in prokaryotes, such as cyanobacteria, the reactions are less localized and occur within membranes and in the cytoplasm. (The structural features of the chloroplast that participate in photosynthesis will be explored in more detail later in The Light-Dependent Reactions of Photosynthesis and Using Light Energy to Make Organic Molecules.) Although photosynthesis and cellular respiration evolved as independent processes—with photosynthesis creating an oxidizing atmosphere early in Earth’s history—today they are interdependent. As we studied in Cellular Respiration, aerobic cellular respiration taps into the oxidizing ability of oxygen to synthesize the organic compounds that are used to power cellular processes.

Information presented and the examples highlighted in the section support concepts and learning objectives outlined in Big Idea 1 and Big Idea 2 of the AP ® Biology Curriculum Framework, as shown in the table. The learning objectives listed in the Curriculum Framework provide a transparent foundation for the AP ® Biology course, an inquiry-based laboratory experience, instructional activities, and AP ® exam questions. A learning objective merges required content with one or more of the seven science practices.

Big Idea 1 The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.
Enduring Understanding 1.B Organisms are linked by lines of descent from common ancestry.
Essential Knowledge 1.B.1 Structural and functional evidence supports the relatedness of all domains, with organisms shared many conserved core processes.
Science Practice 6.1 The student can justify claims with evidence.
Learning Objective 1.15 The student is able to describe specific examples of conserved core biological processes and features shared by all domains s or within one domain of life, and how these shared, conserved core processes and features support the concept of common ancestry for all organisms.
Big Idea 2 Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.
Enduring Understanding 2.A Growth, reproduction and maintenance of living systems require free energy and matter.
Essential Knowledge 2.A.2 Organisms use various strategies to capture and store free energy for use in biological processes.
Science Practice 1.4 The student can use representations and models to analyze situations or solve problems qualitatively and quantitatively.
Science Practice 3.1 The student can pose scientific questions.
Learning Objective 2.4 The student is able to use representations to pose scientific questions about what mechanisms and structural features allow organisms to capture, store, and use free energy.
Essential Knowledge 2.A.2 Organisms use various strategies to capture and store free energy for use in biological processes.
Science Practice 6.2 The student can construct explanations of phenomena based on evidence produced through scientific practices.
Learning Objective 2.5 The student is able to construct explanations of the mechanisms and structural features of cells that allow organisms to capture, store, or use free energy.

Importance of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is essential to all life on earth both plants and animals depend on it. It is the only biological process that can capture energy that originates in outer space (sunlight) and convert it into chemical compounds (carbohydrates) that every organism uses to power its metabolism. In brief, the energy of sunlight is captured and used to energize electrons, whose energy is then stored in the covalent bonds of sugar molecules. How long lasting and stable are those covalent bonds? The energy extracted today by the burning of coal and petroleum products represents sunlight energy captured and stored by photosynthesis almost 200 million years ago.

Plants, algae, and a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria are the only organisms capable of performing photosynthesis (Figure 8.2). Because they use light to manufacture their own food, they are called photoautotrophs (literally, “self-feeders using light”). Other organisms, such as animals, fungi, and most other bacteria, are termed heterotrophs (“other feeders”), because they must rely on the sugars produced by photosynthetic organisms for their energy needs. A third very interesting group of bacteria synthesize sugars, not by using sunlight’s energy, but by extracting energy from inorganic chemical compounds hence, they are referred to as chemoautotrophs .

The importance of photosynthesis is not just that it can capture sunlight’s energy. A lizard sunning itself on a cold day can use the sun’s energy to warm up. Photosynthesis is vital because it evolved as a way to store the energy in solar radiation (the “photo-” part) as energy in the carbon-carbon bonds of carbohydrate molecules (the “-synthesis” part). Those carbohydrates are the energy source that heterotrophs use to power the synthesis of ATP via respiration. Therefore, photosynthesis powers 99 percent of Earth’s ecosystems. When a top predator, such as a wolf, preys on a deer (Figure 8.3), the wolf is at the end of an energy path that went from nuclear reactions on the surface of the sun, to light, to photosynthesis, to vegetation, to deer, and finally to wolf.


The Two Parts of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis takes place in two sequential stages: the light-dependent reactions and the light independent-reactions. In the light-dependent reactions , energy from sunlight is absorbed by chlorophyll and that energy is converted into stored chemical energy. In the light-independent reactions , the chemical energy harvested during the light-dependent reactions drive the assembly of sugar molecules from carbon dioxide. Therefore, although the light-independent reactions do not use light as a reactant, they require the products of the light-dependent reactions to function. In addition, several enzymes of the light-independent reactions are activated by light. The light-dependent reactions utilize certain molecules to temporarily store the energy: These are referred to as energy carriers. The energy carriers that move energy from light-dependent reactions to light-independent reactions can be thought of as “full” because they are rich in energy. After the energy is released, the “empty” energy carriers return to the light-dependent reaction to obtain more energy. [link] illustrates the components inside the chloroplast where the light-dependent and light-independent reactions take place.



Click the link to learn more about photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis at the Grocery Store


Major grocery stores in the United States are organized into departments, such as dairy, meats, produce, bread, cereals, and so forth. Each aisle ([link]) contains hundreds, if not thousands, of different products for customers to buy and consume.

Although there is a large variety, each item links back to photosynthesis. Meats and dairy link, because the animals were fed plant-based foods. The breads, cereals, and pastas come largely from starchy grains, which are the seeds of photosynthesis-dependent plants. What about desserts and drinks? All of these products contain sugar—sucrose is a plant product, a disaccharide, a carbohydrate molecule, which is built directly from photosynthesis. Moreover, many items are less obviously derived from plants: For instance, paper goods are generally plant products, and many plastics (abundant as products and packaging) are derived from algae. Virtually every spice and flavoring in the spice aisle was produced by a plant as a leaf, root, bark, flower, fruit, or stem. Ultimately, photosynthesis connects to every meal and every food a person consumes.


Overview of Photosynthesis

All living organisms on earth consist of one or more cells. Each cell runs on the chemical energy found mainly in carbohydrate molecules (food), and the majority of these molecules are produced by one process: photosynthesis. Through photosynthesis, certain organisms convert solar energy (sunlight) into chemical energy, which is then used to build carbohydrate molecules. The energy used to hold these molecules together is released when an organism breaks down food. Cells then use this energy to perform work, such as cellular respiration.

The energy that is harnessed from photosynthesis enters the ecosystems of our planet continuously and is transferred from one organism to another. Therefore, directly or indirectly, the process of photosynthesis provides most of the energy required by living things on earth.

Photosynthesis also results in the release of oxygen into the atmosphere. In short, to eat and breathe, humans depend almost entirely on the organisms that carry out photosynthesis.

Click the following link to learn more about photosynthesis.

Solar Dependence and Food Production

Some organisms can carry out photosynthesis, whereas others cannot. An autotroph is an organism that can produce its own food. The Greek roots of the word autotroph mean “self” (auto) “feeder” (troph). Plants are the best-known autotrophs, but others exist, including certain types of bacteria and algae ([link]). Oceanic algae contribute enormous quantities of food and oxygen to global food chains. Plants are also photoautotrophs, a type of autotroph that uses sunlight and carbon from carbon dioxide to synthesize chemical energy in the form of carbohydrates. All organisms carrying out photosynthesis require sunlight.

Heterotrophs are organisms incapable of photosynthesis that must therefore obtain energy and carbon from food by consuming other organisms. The Greek roots of the word heterotroph mean “other” (hetero) “feeder” (troph), meaning that their food comes from other organisms. Even if the food organism is another animal, this food traces its origins back to autotrophs and the process of photosynthesis. Humans are heterotrophs, as are all animals. Heterotrophs depend on autotrophs, either directly or indirectly. Deer and wolves are heterotrophs. A deer obtains energy by eating plants. A wolf eating a deer obtains energy that originally came from the plants eaten by that deer. The energy in the plant came from photosynthesis, and therefore it is the only autotroph in this example ([link]). Using this reasoning, all food eaten by humans also links back to autotrophs that carry out photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis at the Grocery Store

Major grocery stores in the United States are organized into departments, such as dairy, meats, produce, bread, cereals, and so forth. Each aisle contains hundreds, if not thousands, of different products for customers to buy and consume ([link]).

Although there is a large variety, each item links back to photosynthesis. Meats and dairy products link to photosynthesis because the animals were fed plant-based foods. The breads, cereals, and pastas come largely from grains, which are the seeds of photosynthetic plants. What about desserts and drinks? All of these products contain sugar—the basic carbohydrate molecule produced directly from photosynthesis. The photosynthesis connection applies to every meal and every food a person consumes.

Main Structures and Summary of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis requires sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water as starting reactants ([link]). After the process is complete, photosynthesis releases oxygen and produces carbohydrate molecules, most commonly glucose. These sugar molecules contain the energy that living things need to survive.

The complex reactions of photosynthesis can be summarized by the chemical equation shown in [link].

Although the equation looks simple, the many steps that take place during photosynthesis are actually quite complex, as in the way that the reaction summarizing cellular respiration represented many individual reactions. Before learning the details of how photoautotrophs turn sunlight into food, it is important to become familiar with the physical structures involved.

In plants, photosynthesis takes place primarily in leaves, which consist of many layers of cells and have differentiated top and bottom sides. The process of photosynthesis occurs not on the surface layers of the leaf, but rather in a middle layer called the mesophyll ([link]). The gas exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen occurs through small, regulated openings called stomata.

In all autotrophic eukaryotes, photosynthesis takes place inside an organelle called a chloroplast. In plants, chloroplast-containing cells exist in the mesophyll. Chloroplasts have a double (inner and outer) membrane. Within the chloroplast is a third membrane that forms stacked, disc-shaped structures called thylakoids. Embedded in the thylakoid membrane are molecules of chlorophyll, a pigment (a molecule that absorbs light) through which the entire process of photosynthesis begins. Chlorophyll is responsible for the green color of plants. The thylakoid membrane encloses an internal space called the thylakoid space. Other types of pigments are also involved in photosynthesis, but chlorophyll is by far the most important. As shown in [link], a stack of thylakoids is called a granum, and the space surrounding the granum is called stroma (not to be confused with stomata, the openings on the leaves).

On a hot, dry day, plants close their stomata to conserve water. What impact will this have on photosynthesis?

The Two Parts of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis takes place in two stages: the light-dependent reactions and the Calvin cycle. In the light-dependent reactions, which take place at the thylakoid membrane, chlorophyll absorbs energy from sunlight and then converts it into chemical energy with the use of water. The light-dependent reactions release oxygen from the hydrolysis of water as a byproduct. In the Calvin cycle, which takes place in the stroma, the chemical energy derived from the light-dependent reactions drives both the capture of carbon in carbon dioxide molecules and the subsequent assembly of sugar molecules. The two reactions use carrier molecules to transport the energy from one to the other. The carriers that move energy from the light-dependent reactions to the Calvin cycle reactions can be thought of as “full” because they bring energy. After the energy is released, the “empty” energy carriers return to the light-dependent reactions to obtain more energy.

Section Summary

The process of photosynthesis transformed life on earth. By harnessing energy from the sun, photosynthesis allowed living things to access enormous amounts of energy. Because of photosynthesis, living things gained access to sufficient energy, allowing them to evolve new structures and achieve the biodiversity that is evident today.

Only certain organisms, called autotrophs, can perform photosynthesis they require the presence of chlorophyll, a specialized pigment that can absorb light and convert light energy into chemical energy. Photosynthesis uses carbon dioxide and water to assemble carbohydrate molecules (usually glucose) and releases oxygen into the air. Eukaryotic autotrophs, such as plants and algae, have organelles called chloroplasts in which photosynthesis takes place.

Art Connections

[link] On a hot, dry day, plants close their stomata to conserve water. What impact will this have on photosynthesis?

[link] Levels of carbon dioxide (a reactant) will fall, and levels of oxygen (a product) will rise. As a result, the rate of photosynthesis will slow down.

Multiple Choice

What two products result from photosynthesis?

  1. water and carbon dioxide
  2. water and oxygen
  3. glucose and oxygen
  4. glucose and carbon dioxide

Which statement about thylakoids in eukaryotes is not correct?

  1. Thylakoids are assembled into stacks.
  2. Thylakoids exist as a maze of folded membranes.
  3. The space surrounding thylakoids is called stroma.
  4. Thylakoids contain chlorophyll.

From where does a heterotroph directly obtain its energy?

  1. the sun
  2. the sun and eating other organisms
  3. eating other organisms
  4. simple chemicals in the environment

Free Response

What is the overall purpose of the light reactions in photosynthesis?

To convert solar energy into chemical energy that cells can use to do work.

Why are carnivores, such as lions, dependent on photosynthesis to survive?

Because lions eat animals that eat plants.

Glossary


Chapter 8 photosynthesis section review. Solved: Correctly Label The Key Electron Steps And Major P …


Source: ecdn.teacherspayteachers.com

Cellular energy true/false indicate whether the. Miller Levine Biology Worksheet-Photosynthesis Chapter 8.1 …


Overview of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is essential to all life on earth both plants and animals depend on it. It is the only biological process that can capture energy that originates in outer space (sunlight) and convert it into chemical compounds (carbohydrates) that every organism uses to power its metabolism.

In brief, the energy of sunlight is captured and used to energize electrons, which are then stored in the covalent bonds of sugar molecules. How long lasting and stable are those covalent bonds? The energy extracted today by the burning of coal and petroleum products represents sunlight energy captured and stored by photosynthesis almost 200 million years ago.

Plants, algae, and a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria are the only organisms capable of performing photosynthesis (see the figure below). Because they use light to manufacture their own food, they are called photoautotrophs (literally, “self-feeders using light”).

Other organisms, such as animals, fungi, and most other bacteria, are termed heterotrophs (“other feeders”), because they must rely on the sugars produced by photosynthetic organisms for their energy needs. A third very interesting group of bacteria synthesize sugars, not by using sunlight’s energy, but by extracting energy from inorganic chemical compounds hence, they are referred to as chemoautotrophs.

Photoautotrophs including (a) plants, (b) algae, and (c) cyanobacteria synthesize their organic compounds via photosynthesis using sunlight as an energy source. Cyanobacteria and planktonic algae can grow over enormous areas in water, at times completely covering the surface. In a (d) deep sea vent, chemoautotrophs, such as these (e) thermophilic bacteria, capture energy from inorganic compounds to produce organic compounds. The ecosystem surrounding the vents has a diverse array of animals, such as tubeworms, crustaceans, and octopi that derive energy from the bacteria. (credit a: modification of work by Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service credit b: modification of work by “eutrophication&hypoxia”/Flickr credit c: modification of work by NASA credit d: University of Washington, NOAA credit e: modification of work by Mark Amend, West Coast and Polar Regions Undersea Research Center, UAF, NOAA)

The importance of photosynthesis is not just that it can capture sunlight’s energy. A lizard sunning itself on a cold day can use the sun’s energy to warm up. Photosynthesis is vital because it evolved as a way to store the energy in solar radiation (the “photo-” part) as high-energy electrons in the carbon-carbon bonds of carbohydrate molecules (the “-synthesis” part).

Those carbohydrates are the energy source that heterotrophs use to power the synthesis of ATP via respiration. Therefore, photosynthesis powers 99 percent of Earth’s ecosystems. When a top predator, such as a wolf, preys on a deer (see the figure below), the wolf is at the end of an energy path that went from nuclear reactions on the surface of the sun, to light, to photosynthesis, to vegetation, to deer, and finally to wolf.


Watch the video: Photosynthesis: Crash Course Biology #8 (June 2022).