Cellular Biology

How Photosynthesis Works



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Photosynthesis isn't just a big word that everyone learned about in grade school, it is a truly important process that is necessary for the survival of life on Earth.  Without the chemical reactions that take place in plants it would be impossible for our planet to provide the necessary oxygen required for life to exist.  Not to mention it could be argued that plants even help to reduce the greenhouse effect by removing carbon dioxide from the air that animals see as a waste product. 

The relationship between plants and animals is one that is incredibly important.  Not only do animals use plants as a food source they are vital to our overall survival as they product the oxygen that is required for life.  Plants even help remove our waste by using carbon dioxide and even by diluting some pollutants on the planet.  By working together plants and animals help to ensure a healthy balance on the planet that allows both to survive and thrive. 

What is Photosynthesis?

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants use carbon dioxide and water to produce energy for their own growth. While the process is somewhat simplistic, the result is absolutely critical to the life on Earth.  Without the process of photosynthesis there wouldn't be enough oxygen on the planet to sustain all of the animal life that currently exists.  This means that the large majority of animals on Earth would simply choke and die.  This is why it is important to maintain a healthy balance of plantlife in order to sustain a healthy level of oxygen at all times. 

STAGE 1
In the very first stage of photosynthesis green plants take in carbon dioxide through the leaves and water through it's roots and leaves. This process starts in an area of the leaves called the mesophyll cells.  The carbon dioxide is produced by living creatures when they exhale.  The plants consume this carbon dioxide and turn it into something more usable by animal life. 

STAGE 2
Carbon dioxide and water are converted into oxygen and glucose. The oxygen is considered a waste product of this chemical reaction, and released into the air, where it is absorbed by other organisms. Since this process requires sunlight as the means for producing this chemical reaction, chlorophyll must be present. Chlorophyll is simply the green chemical within the chloroplasts. This is all part of the leaf structure. This chlorophyll is what traps the sunlight, which is converted into chemical energy, used for photosynthesis.  The need for sunlight is what ultimately causes plants to turn and bend in strange directions.  They are literally reaching for sunlight and will often grow in the general direction of the suns rays.  Without the sun it is unlikely that many plants would properly grow which means less oxygen would be produced. 

STAGE 3
This new energy created in the form of glucose is now carried through the plant by means of a phloem vessel in one of two forms. Glucose is either turned into sucrose and transferred to other parts of the plants for use, or it is turned into starch which is stored for later use. This starch is generally stored for times when water or sunlight is in low supply. The glucose that remains is used for the direct process of respiration.

Essentially, this major chemical process is done by all green leaved plants, and is done directly in the leaves of the plant. This process is important for the survival of life on earth, and it is because of this, that we must be certain that we do everything in our power to preserve our plant life to ensure that we always have enough oxygen in our air for our own survival. Without these plants, which are currently threatened through clear cutting of our major forests, it is going to become much harder for the life on earth to breathe.

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