• Green plants make their own food by photosynthesis.
  • During this process carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is taken in by leaves through stomata and used for making carbohydrates, principally glucose and starch.
  • Photosynthesis takes place only in the green parts of the plants, mainly the leaves.
  • Within the leaves, the mesophyll cells have a large number of chloroplasts that are responsible for CO2 fixation. Within the chloroplasts, the membranes are sites for the light reaction, while the chemosynthetic pathway occurs in the stromatal aperture.
  • Photosynthesis has two stages: the light reaction and the carbon fixing reactions. In the light reaction the light energy is absorbed by the pigments present in the antenna, and funnelled to special chlorophyll a molecules called reaction centre chlorophylls.
  • There are two photosystems, PS I and PS II. PS I has a 700 nm absorbing chlorophyll a P700 molecule at its reaction centre, while PS II has a P680 reaction centre that absorbs red light at 680 nm.
  • After absorbing light, electrons are excited and transferred through PS II and PS I and finally to NAD forming NADH. During this process a proton gradient is created across the membrane of the thylakoid.
  • The breakdown of the protons gradient due to movement through the F0 part of the ATPase enzyme releases enough energy for synthesis of ATP.
  • Splitting of water molecules is associated with PS II resulting in the release of O2, protons and transfer of electrons to PS II. In the carbon fixation cycle, CO2 is added by the enzyme, RuBisCO, to a 5- carbon compound RuBP that is converted to 2 molecules of 3-carbon PGA.
  • This is then converted to sugar by the Calvin cycle, and the RuBP is regenerated. During this process ATP and NADPH synthesised in the light reaction are utilised. RuBisCO also catalyses a wasteful oxygenation reaction in C3 plants: photorespiration.
  • Some tropical plants show a special type of photosynthesis called C4 pathway.
  • In these plants the first product of CO2 fixation that takes place in the mesophyll, is a 4-carbon compound. In the bundle sheath cells the Calvin pathway is carried out for the synthesis of carbohydrates.

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