• Austin Campbell

It's Not That Simple

We all know about photosynthesis,the sun hits the leaves, the tree makes food for the tree and the process is finished. No, unfortunately the process of photosynthesis is much more complex than what we learned in an elementary school science class. The light from the sun isn't even simple at all. There are different types of visible light and different pigments in the leaves that reflect these different types of light. Photosynthetic cells contain special pigments that absorb and use light energy. Different pigments respond to the various wavelengths of light.Chlorophyll is the primary pigment used in the process of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll reflects green light and absorbs red and blue light most strongly.When the light energy is absorbed by the chlorophyll pigments that excites the electrons within them.When the electrons become excited it begins the cycle of the electron transport chain. This chain brings the electron to a low energy state to harness its energy by producing ATP and NADPH(energy transporter proteins). If a chlorophyll molecule loses an electron it replaces it with an electron from the water molecule.This essentially splits the water molecule and releases oxygen. After the light energy has been absorbed and harnessed we begin the process of carbon fixation.To carry-out carbon fixation we have to use the energy of the energy transporter proteins. This drives a chemical pathway that uses carbon and carbon dioxide ( from the atmosphere) to make a 3 carbon sugar known as G3P. This sugar gets stored, broken down, and changed but it is the food for the plant, the product of photosynthesis. In conclusion photosynthetic cells contain chlorophyll and other light-sensitive pigments. These pigments capture solar energy in the presence of carbon dioxide such cells are able to convert the solar energy into energy-rich molecules. These cells not only drive the global carbon cycle but they also produce much of the oxygen present in the atmosphere. Photosynthesis really is not that simple.

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