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Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration - told by a plant!
Most plants never consume their own food. Instead, we use sunlight to generate energy. But, it's a little more complicated than that...
Hello there, human! I'm Sam the Sunflower! You may know that sunflowers grow very tall, but do you know where we get the energy to do all of that growing?
We go through a complex process called photosynthesis, a process in which plants generate their own food!
The first step in photosynthesis is the light reactions within the chloroplasts in my cells. First up is the light dependent reactions. Light enters photosystem II, where the high energy level excites electrons. The electrons leave chlorophyll a, causing a primary electron acceptor (PEA) to donate more electrons to the electron transport chain (ETC). The lost energy is used to move protons into the thylakoids.
After photosystem II comes photosystem I. Electrons move from a pair of chlorophyll a molecules to another PEA. The lost electrons are replaced by those from the ETC in photosystem II. The PEA then donates to another ETC. This produces NADPH and ATP, and gives off O2, like a waste product.
Next comes the light independent reactions. Through the cycle called the Calvin Cycle, the products of the light dependent reactions are used to generate carbohydrates. Recycled RuBP is also given off and reused in later cycles. This is where I start to feel the energy moving around my stem and leaves!
But wait - there's still cellular respiration! This occurs in the mitochondria. There are 3 stages: glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, and the ETC. In glycolysis, glucose is broken down into pyruvic acid. The pyruvic acid goes into the Krebs cycle, where NADH, FADH2, and ATP are produced. Finally, they go to the electron transport chain, where NADH and FADH2 donate electrons that go down their concentration gradient and produces ATP - more energy for me!
I hope you understand how photosynthesis and cellular respiration work now. As you now know, they are very important for keeping many organisms, including me, alive! I sure am thankful for that!
As you can see, it is a very complicated process for me to create energy! First, I go through photosynthesis, and then cellular respiration, and then the whole cycle repeats!
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