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Author: John Lui

Understand the process of photosynthesis.

This tutorial covers the basic ideas behind photosynthesis.  water + carbon dioxide >sunlight> glucose + oxygen

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Here is the link to study the terms for photosynthesis.


What is Photosynthesis?

If a plant gets hungry, it cannot walk to a local restaurant and buy a slice of pizza. So, how does a plant get the food it needs to survive? Plants are producers , which means they are able to make, or produce, their own food. They also produce the "food" for other organisms. Plants are also autotrophs. Autotrophs are the organisms that collect the energy from the sun and turn it into organic compounds. So once again, how does a plant get the food it needs to survive?

Through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process plants use to make their own “food” from the sun's energy, carbon dioxide, and water. During photosynthesis, carbon dioxide and water combine with solar energy to create glucose , a carbohydrate (C 6 H 12 O 6 ), and oxygen.  Sugar production occurs during the Calvin Cycle of photosynthesis

The process can be summarized as: in the presence of sunlight, carbon dioxide + water → glucose + oxygen.

Glucose is a sugar that acts as the "food" source for plants. The glucose is then converted into usable chemical energy, ATP , during cellular respiration . The oxygen formed during photosynthesis, which is necessary for animal life, is essentially a waste product of the photosynthesis process.

Actually, almost all organisms obtain their energy from photosynthetic organisms. For example, if a bird eats a caterpillar, then the bird gets the energy that the caterpillar gets from the plants it eats. So the bird indirectly gets energy that began with the glucose formed through photosynthesis. Therefore, the process of photosynthesis is central to sustaining life on Earth. In eukaryotic organisms, photosynthesis occurs in chloroplasts . Only cells with chloroplasts—plant cells and algal (protist) cells—can perform photosynthesis. Animal cells and fungal cells do not have chloroplasts and, therefore, cannot photosynthesize. That is why these organisms, as well as the non-photosynthetic protists, rely on other organisms to obtain their energy. These organisms are heterotrophs.


ATP (adenosine triphosphate) : Usable form of energy inside the cell.
autotroph : Organism that produces complex organic compounds from simple inorganic molecules using a source of energy such as sunlight.
cellular respiration : Process of breaking down glucose to obtain energy in the form of ATP.
chloroplast : Organelle that carries out photosynthesis in plants.
glucose : Simple sugar with the chemical formula C 6 H 12 O 6 ; a product of photosynthesis.
heterotroph : Organism which obtains carbon from outside sources.
photosynthesis : Process by which specific organisms (including all plants) use the sun's energy to make their own food from carbon dioxide and water; process that converts the energy of the sun, or solar energy, into carbohydrates, a type of chemical energy.
producer : Organism that produces food (glucose) for itself and other organisms.

Source: ck12

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