Cellular Biology

How Photosynthesis Works

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"How Photosynthesis Works"
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Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration are perhaps the two most critical chemical reactions that allow life as we know it. Photosynthesis is the formation of glucose and oxygen from carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight (energy). Cellular Reparation is the exact opposite of photosynthesis; energy is released and carbon dioxide and water are formed when glucose and oxygen are broken down. These two processes, while seeming to counteract each other, are what allow heterotrophs and autotrophs to function. It begins with the autotroph, or the producer. The autotroph uses carbon dioxide from the air and water that it absorbs through its root system as the material building blocks for photosynthesis. However, the autotroph requires energy (in the form of light) for this process. The plant is able to use these three resources to create two substances, glucose and oxygen. The plant uses photons to transform six molecules of carbon dioxide and six molecules of hydrogen dioxide (water) into one glucose molecule and six molecules of oxygen.

6 CO2(gas) + 6 H2O(liquid) + photons C6H12O6(aqueous) + 6 O2(gas)

This is where the heterotrophs come into play. Unlike autotrophs, heterotrophs cannot synthesize their own food from their surrounding resources. These plants rely ultimately on the autotrophs for survival. These heterotrophs use the glucose and oxygen created by the autotrophs in photosynthesis to produce water, carbon dioxide, and energy for themselves. The process is the exact opposite of photosynthesis.

C6H12O6(aqueous) + 6 O2(gas) 6 CO2(gas) + 6 H2O(liquid) + energy

Because they cannot make their own energy, heterotrophs rely on the energy produced by autotrophs to survive. These processes of photosynthesis and cellular reparation are balanced reactions that with the energy from the sun sustain themselves and allow life on earth.

More about this author: Christopher Dentel

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