Photosynthesis: process, function, importance and formula

Photosynthesis: process, function, importance and formula

Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds using light energy, usually solar energy. This process is carried out in certain plant cells from inorganic matter.

This chemical process occurs in plants, algae, and some groups of bacteria. In these photosynthetic processes light energy is transformed into stable chemical energy. However, not all organisms that use light as an energy source carry out photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is an example of solar energy because it directly uses radiant energy from the sun to carry out a chemical process that converts this energy into stored chemical energy in the form of glucose and other organic molecules.

This process allows to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere in a natural way. It is of crucial importance for life on Earth.

What is the function of photosynthesis?

Photosynthesis is essential for maintaining the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as well as for providing energy and nutrients to plants and ultimately all life on Earth. It is one of the most important processes in the biosphere, as it supports life as we know it.

The function of photosynthesis is broken down below:

  1. Solar energy capture: Plants have photosynthetic pigments, such as chlorophyll, that absorb sunlight and convert it into chemical energy.

  2. Conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to glucose (C6H12O6): During photosynthesis, plants take carbon dioxide from the air through small pores in their leaves called stomata and use it to synthesize glucose and other substances. carbs. This conversion of CO2 to glucose is essential for life on Earth, as plants act as carbon sinks, helping to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

  3. Oxygen release (O2): As a by-product of photosynthesis, plants release oxygen into the air, which is vital for the respiration of living things, including humans.

  4. Energy and biomass production: Glucose and other organic compounds produced during photosynthesis serve as a source of energy and building materials for plant growth and development. In addition, these products feed other life forms that feed on plants, forming the base of food chains.

Chemical reaction formula

During photosynthesis, with the mediation of chlorophyll molecules, solar radiation will convert six CO2 molecules and six H2O molecules into one glucose molecule (C6H12O6), which is a fundamental sugar for life. of the plant.

Photosynthesis: process, function, importance and formulaPhotosynthesis is the primary process of producing organic molecules from inorganic substances.

As a byproduct of the reaction, oxygen is released through stomata found on the leaf.

The formula for the chemical reaction of photosynthesis is as follows: 6CO2 + 6 H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2

Phases of photosynthesis

Chlorophyll photosynthesis, also called oxygenic photosynthesis, takes place in stages in two phases:

Light phase

The light phase or light-dependent reaction is the step of photosynthesis in which solar energy is converted into chemical energy. Chlorophyll and other photosynthetic pigments such as carotene absorb light. The is used to fragment a water molecule, so oxygen is produced as waste.

Dark phase

The dark phase is a set of reactions that are carried out without light. (not necessarily at night). During this phase, the plant converts carbon dioxide and other compounds into glucose.

These reactions take the products of the light phase which are basically ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and NADPH (nicotin adenine dinucleotide phosphate) and perform further chemical processes on them.

The dark phase reactions are carbon fixation and the Calvin Cycle.

importance of photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is essential to life as we know it on Earth, providing oxygen, regulating the carbon cycle, sustaining the food chain, and contributing to food and energy production. In addition, it has a key role in mitigating climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Here are several key reasons that highlight its importance:

Oxygen production

The main source of oxygen in the atmosphere is photosynthesis. Plants, algae, and certain bacteria release oxygen as a byproduct of this process. Oxygen is essential for respiration for most forms of life on Earth, including humans.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction

This chemical process removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping to control the level of this greenhouse gas. This is crucial to mitigate climate change and maintain a balance in the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

Food production

The base of the food chain on Earth is photosynthesis. Plants carry out photosynthesis to produce carbohydrates and other organic compounds, which serve as food for herbivorous animals. These herbivores, in turn, are eaten by carnivores and so on, forming a food chain that sustains life on the planet.

Renewable energy

It is also a key process for the production of biomass, which can be used as a renewable energy source through direct combustion or conversion to biofuels.

This has the potential to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate environmental problems related to their extraction and use.

Carbon cycle

Photosynthesis and respiration (reverse process) are an essential part of the carbon cycle on Earth. This cycle is essential to maintain a balance in the availability of carbon, necessary for the formation of organic matter and minerals, and to regulate the Earth's temperature through the control of greenhouse gases.

Habitat and biodiversity

Terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems depend on photosynthesis to provide habitats and food resources for a wide variety of species. The diversity of life on Earth is closely related to the availability of photosynthetic plants.

Publication Date: August 24, 2018
Last Revision: August 28, 2023