Photosynthesis is a process that although we have all heard it mentioned numerous times, not everyone knows in depth. And it is something that is worth spending a few minutes since it is one of the main responsible for the fact that life on our planet is as it is now.
If you want to learn more about where photosynthesis occurs or how it takes place, join us in this 9jatoday article in which we clarify
What is photosynthesis? This article examines what photosynthesis is, its process, reagents/reactants and the importance of photosynthesis, among more details.
What is photosynthesis and what is its function?
To begin with, it must be clarified that photosynthesis is a process by which plant organisms and some bacteria are capable of creating organic matter from inorganic matter and light. This is what differentiates autotrophic organisms, capable of synthesizing their own food from inorganic substances, from heterotrophs, which need to feed on autotrophic organisms or other heterotrophs.
Like any chemical process, photosynthesis has its formula. In this case, it is the same in all plants and organisms capable of carrying it out:
6 H2O + 6 CO2 + light = C6H12O6 + 6 O2
What does this all mean? That to carry out the elementary step of photosynthesis, 6 molecules of water (H2O), 6 molecules of carbon dioxide (CO2) are necessary, and the contribution of photons, or light energy. Thanks to chloroplasts and the photosynthesis process, these ingredients end up being transformed into a glucose molecule (C6H12O6) and 6 oxygen molecules (02). Oxygen is expelled back into the atmosphere, while glucose is used to provide energy to the plant and produce compounds such as proteins, starch or lipids, among others.
So what are the products resulting from photosynthesis? The products resulting from this process are glucose and oxygen.
There are several stages of photosynthesis. When we refer to the photosynthesis of plants, which is the most common, we differentiate 4 main stages: absorption, circulation, photosynthesis and feeding.
- Absorption: in the absorption stage, the plant absorbs water and minerals from the environment, generally through its roots.
- Circulation: in the circulation stage, the absorbed nutrients circulate through the plant to the leaves, which is where photosynthesis almost always takes place.
- Generation of ATP: in the proper stage of photosynthesis is where the process of transforming water, carbon dioxide and light into energy for the plant takes place. It is a very complex process in which two major phases of photosynthesis can be distinguished: the light phase and the dark phase. In the light phase, the plant uses light energy to convert CO2 and H2O molecules into ATP, a basic unit of biochemical energy that all living things use. Those responsible for this are chloroplasts, organelles that have their own DNA and are present in all living beings capable of carrying out the photosynthesis process thanks to the chlorophyll they contain, which gives plants their characteristic green color. In the dark phase, the ATP produced in the light phase is transformed into organic matter, in a complex chemical process that no longer needs light.
- Food and growth: Finally, the plant uses the compounds produced to feed itself and to produce new structures and grow.
Why Photosynthesis Matters
The importance of photosynthesis is vital on our planet. Without the action for millions of years of the first photosynthetic organisms, the atmosphere would not have been loaded with the levels of oxygen that allowed the formation of the ozone layer. Without the ozone layer, the sun’s ultraviolet radiation would not have allowed life on Earth, relegating the possibilities of subsistence to aquatic organisms, protected from UV rays.
It is responsible for the oxygen that allows all animals to live. However, it is easy to fall into the error of thinking that the great forest masses of the planet are responsible for a good part of the oxygen production since it is not like that. Large forests and jungles are important and vital for many other reasons, but the reality is that the respiration of plants and a large amount of life they contain end up resulting in their positive oxygen supply being quite reduced.
To find the basis for oxygen production on Earth, you have to go precisely to the sea. Phytoplankton are made up of unicellular algae and photosynthetic cyanobacteria that cannot be seen with the naked eye and that, nevertheless, represent the irreplaceable basis of the marine food chain and of oxygen production on our planet. Between 50% and 85% of the oxygen currently produced on the planet is released by these autotrophic microorganisms, to which we owe practically everything.