Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to capture the sun's energy to split off water's hydrogen from oxygen. Hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide (absorbed from air or water) to form glucose and release oxygenHP Pavilion dv6-1200eh battery. All living cells in turn use fuels derived from glucose and oxidize the hydrogen and carbon to release the sun's energy and reform water and carbon dioxide in the process (cellular respiration).
Photosynthesis occurs in plants, algae, and many species of bacteria, but not in archaea. Photosynthetic organisms are called photoautotrophs, since they can create their own food. In plants, algae, and cyanobacteriaHP Pavilion dv6-1200sh battery, photosynthesis uses carbon dioxide and water, releasing oxygen as a waste product. Photosynthesis is vital for all aerobic life on Earth. In addition to maintaining normal levels of oxygen in the atmosphere, photosynthesis is the source of energy for nearly all life on earth, either directly, through primary production, or indirectly, as the ultimate source of the energy in their foodHP Pavilion dv6-1200sl battery, the exceptions being chemoautotrophs that live in rocks or around deep sea hydrothermal vents. The rate of energy capture by photosynthesis is immense, approximately 100 terawatts, which is about six times larger than the power consumption of human civilization. As well as energy, photosynthesis is also the source of the carbon in all the organic compounds within organisms' bodiesHP Pavilion dv6-1200sq battery. In all, photosynthetic organisms convert around 100–115 petagrams of carbon into biomass per year.
Although photosynthesis can happen in different ways in different species, some features are always the same. For example, the process always begins when energy from light is absorbed by proteins called photosynthetic reaction centers that contain chlorophylls. In plants, these proteins are held inside organelles called chloroplastsHP Pavilion dv6-1201au battery, while in bacteria they are embedded in the plasma membrane. Some of the light energy gathered by chlorophylls is stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The rest of the energy is used to remove electrons from a substance such as water. These electrons are then used in the reactions that turn carbon dioxide into organic compounds. In plants, algae and cyanobacteriaHP Pavilion dv6-1201ax battery, this is done by a sequence of reactions called the Calvin cycle, but different sets of reactions are found in some bacteria, such as the reverse Krebs cycle in Chlorobium. Many photosynthetic organisms have adaptations that concentrate or store carbon dioxide. This helps reduce a wasteful process called photorespiration that can consume part of the sugar produced during photosynthesisHP Pavilion dv6-1201tx battery.
Schematic of photosynthesis in plants
The first photosynthetic organisms probably evolved about 3,500 million years ago, early in the evolutionary history of life, when all forms of life on Earth were microorganisms and the atmosphere had much more carbon dioxide. They most likely used hydrogen or hydrogen sulfide as sources of electrons, rather than water. Cyanobacteria appeared laterHP Pavilion dv6-1202au battery, around 3,000 million years ago, and drastically changed the Earth when they began to oxygenate the atmosphere, beginning about 2,400 million years ago. This new atmosphere allowed the evolution of complex life such as protists. Eventually, no later than a billion years ago, one of these protists formed a symbiotic relationship with a cyanobacterium, producing the ancestor of many plants and algaeHP Pavilion dv6-1202ax battery. The chloroplasts in modern plants are the descendants of these ancient symbiotic cyanobacteria.
Photosynthesis changes sunlight into chemical energy, splits water to liberate O2, and fixes CO2 into sugar.
Photosynthetic organisms are photoautotrophs, which means that they are repositories of energy, they are able to synthesize food directly from carbon dioxide, waterHP Pavilion dv6-1202tu battery, and using energy from light. They accrue it as part of their potential energy. However, not all organisms that use light as a source of energy carry out photosynthesis, since photoheterotrophs use organic compounds, rather than carbon dioxide, as a source of carbon. In plants, algae and cyanobacteria, photosynthesis releases oxygen. This is called oxygenic photosynthesisHP Pavilion dv6-1203tu battery. Although there are some differences between oxygenic photosynthesis in plants, algae and cyanobacteria, the overall process is quite similar in these organisms. However, there are some types of bacteria that carry out anoxygenic photosynthesis, which consumes carbon dioxide but does not release oxygen.
Carbon dioxide is converted into sugars in a process called carbon fixationHP Pavilion dv6-1203tx battery. Carbon fixation is a redox reaction, so photosynthesis needs to supply both a source of energy to drive this process, and the electrons needed to convert carbon dioxide into a carbohydrate, which is a reduction reaction. In general outline, photosynthesis is the opposite of cellular respiration, where glucose and other compounds are oxidized to produce carbon dioxide, water, and release chemical energyHP Pavilion dv6-1204au battery. However, the two processes take place through a different sequence of chemical reactions and in different cellular compartments.
The general equation for photosynthesis is therefore:
2n CO2 + 2n DH2 + photons → 2(CH2O)n + 2n DO
Carbon dioxide + electron donor + light energy → carbohydrate + oxidized electron donor
In oxygenic photosynthesis water is the electron donor and, since its hydrolysis releases oxygen, the equation for this process is:
2n CO2 + 4n H2O + photons → 2(CH2O)n + 2n O2 + 2n H2O
carbon dioxide + water + light energy → carbohydrate + oxygen + water
Often 2n water molecules are cancelled on both sides, yielding:
2n CO2 + 2n H2O + photons → 2(CH2O)n + 2n O2
carbon dioxide + water + light energy → carbohydrate + oxygenHP Pavilion dv6-1204ax battery
Other processes substitute other compounds (such as arsenite) for water in the electron-supply role; the microbes use sunlight to oxidize arsenite to arsenate: The equation for this reaction is:
CO2 + (AsO33–) + photons → (AsO43–) + CO
carbon dioxide + arsenite + light energy → arsenate + carbon monoxide (used to build other compounds in subsequent reactions) HP Pavilion dv6-1204tx battery
Photosynthesis occurs in two stages. In the first stage, light-dependent reactions or light reactions capture the energy of light and use it to make the energy-storage molecules ATP and NADPH. During the second stage, the light-independent reactions use these products to capture and reduce carbon dioxideHP Pavilion dv6-1205ee battery.
Most organisms that utilize photosynthesis to produce oxygen use visible light to do so, although at least three use infrared radiation.
Photosynthetic membranes and organelles
The proteins that gather light for photosynthesis are embedded within cell membranes. The simplest way these are arranged is in photosynthetic bacteria, where these proteins are held within the plasma membraneHP Pavilion dv6-1205er battery. However, this membrane may be tightly folded into cylindrical sheets called thylakoids, or bunched up into round vesicles called intracytoplasmic membranes. These structures can fill most of the interior of a cell, giving the membrane a very large surface area and therefore increasing the amount of light that the bacteria can absorbHP Pavilion dv6-1205sf battery.
In plants and algae, photosynthesis takes place in organelles called chloroplasts. A typical plant cell contains about 10 to 100 chloroplasts. The chloroplast is enclosed by a membrane. This membrane is composed of a phospholipid inner membrane, a phospholipid outer membrane, and an intermembrane space between them. Within the membrane is an aqueous fluid called the stromaHP Pavilion dv6-1205sg battery. The stroma contains stacks (grana) of thylakoids, which are the site of photosynthesis. The thylakoids are flattened disks, bounded by a membrane with a lumen or thylakoid space within it. The site of photosynthesis is the thylakoid membrane, which contains integral and peripheral membrane protein complexes, including the pigments that absorb light energy, which form the photosystemsHP Pavilion dv6-1205sl battery.
Plants absorb light primarily using the pigment chlorophyll, which is the reason that most plants have a green color. Besides chlorophyll, plants also use pigments such as carotenes and xanthophylls. Algae also use chlorophyll, but various other pigments are present as phycocyanin, carotenes, and xanthophylls in green algae, phycoerythrin in red algae (rhodophytes) and fucoxanthin in brown algae and diatoms resulting in a wide variety of colorsHP Pavilion dv6-1205tx battery.
These pigments are embedded in plants and algae in special antenna-proteins. In such proteins all the pigments are ordered to work well together. Such a protein is also called a light-harvesting complex.
Although all cells in the green parts of a plant have chloroplasts, most of the energy is captured in the leaves. The cells in the interior tissues of a leaf, called the mesophyll, can contain between 450,000 and 800,000 chloroplasts for every square millimeter of leafHP Pavilion dv6-1206au battery. The surface of the leaf is uniformly coated with a water-resistant waxy cuticle that protects the leaf from excessive evaporation of water and decreases the absorption of ultraviolet or blue light to reduce heating. The transparent epidermis layer allows light to pass through to the palisade mesophyll cells where most of the photosynthesis takes placeHP Pavilion dv6-1206tx battery.
Light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis at the thylakoid membrane
Main article: Light-dependent reactions
In the light reactions, one molecule of the pigment chlorophyll absorbs one photon and loses one electron. This electron is passed to a modified form of chlorophyll called pheophytin, which passes the electron to a quinone molecule, allowing the start of a flow of electrons down an electron transport chain that leads to the ultimate reduction of NADP to NADPHHP Pavilion dv6-1207au battery. In addition, this creates a proton gradient across the chloroplast membrane; its dissipation is used by ATP synthase for the concomitant synthesis of ATP. The chlorophyll molecule regains the lost electron from a water molecule through a process called photolysis, which releases a dioxygen (O2) molecule. The overall equation for the light-dependent reactions under the conditions of non-cyclic electron flow in green plants is:
2 H2O + 2 NADP+ + 3 ADP + 3 Pi + light → 2 NADPH + 2 H+ + 3 ATP + O2HP Pavilion dv6-1207ax battery
Not all wavelengths of light can support photosynthesis. The photosynthetic action spectrum depends on the type of accessory pigments present. For example, in green plants, the action spectrum resembles the absorption spectrum for chlorophylls and carotenoids with peaks for violet-blue and red light. In red algae, the action spectrum overlaps with the absorption spectrum of phycobilins for red blue-green lightHP Pavilion dv6-1207sf battery, which allows these algae to grow in deeper waters that filter out the longer wavelengths used by green plants. The non-absorbed part of the light spectrum is what gives photosynthetic organisms their color (e.g., green plants, red algae, purple bacteria) and is the least effective for photosynthesis in the respective organismsHP Pavilion dv6-1207tx battery.
The "Z scheme"
In plants, light-dependent reactions occur in the thylakoid membranes of the chloroplasts and use light energy to synthesize ATP and NADPH. The light-dependent reaction has two forms: cyclic and non-cyclic. In the non-cyclic reaction, the photons are captured in the light-harvesting antenna complexes of photosystem II by chlorophyll and other accessory pigments HP Pavilion dv6-1208ca battery (see diagram at right). When a chlorophyll molecule at the core of the photosystem II reaction center obtains sufficient excitation energy from the adjacent antenna pigments, an electron is transferred to the primary electron-acceptor molecule, pheophytin, through a process called photoinduced charge separation. These electrons are shuttled through an electron transport chainHP Pavilion dv6-1210ee battery, the so-called Z-scheme shown in the diagram, that initially functions to generate a chemiosmotic potential across the membrane. An ATP synthase enzyme uses the chemiosmotic potential to make ATP during photophosphorylation, whereas NADPH is a product of the terminal redox reaction in the Z-scheme. The electron enters a chlorophyll molecule in Photosystem IHP Pavilion dv6-1210eg battery. The electron is excited due to the light absorbed by the photosystem. A second electron carrier accepts the electron, which again is passed down lowering energies of electron acceptors. The energy created by the electron acceptors is used to move hydrogen ions across the thylakoid membrane into the lumen. The electron is used to reduce the co-enzyme NADP, which has functions in the light-independent reactionHP Pavilion dv6-1210ek battery. The cyclic reaction is similar to that of the non-cyclic, but differs in the form that it generates only ATP, and no reduced NADP (NADPH) is created. The cyclic reaction takes place only at photosystem I. Once the electron is displaced from the photosystem, the electron is passed down the electron acceptor molecules and returns to photosystem I, from where it was emitted, hence the name cyclic reactionHP Pavilion dv6-1210er battery.
Main articles: Photodissociation and Oxygen evolution
The NADPH is the main reducing agent in chloroplasts, providing a source of energetic electrons to other reactions. Its production leaves chlorophyll with a deficit of electrons (oxidized), which must be obtained from some other reducing agent. The excited electrons lost from chlorophyll in photosystem I are replaced from the electron transport chain by plastocyaninHP Pavilion dv6-1210es battery. However, since photosystem II includes the first steps of the Z-scheme, an external source of electrons is required to reduce its oxidized chlorophyll a molecules. The source of electrons in green-plant and cyanobacterial photosynthesis is water. Two water molecules are oxidized by four successive charge-separation reactions by photosystem II to yield a molecule of diatomic oxygen and four hydrogen ionsHP Pavilion dv6-1210et battery; the electron yielded in each step is transferred to a redox-active tyrosine residue that then reduces the photoxidized paired-chlorophyll a species called P680 that serves as the primary (light-driven) electron donor in the photosystem II reaction center. The oxidation of water is catalyzed in photosystem II by a redox-active structure that contains four manganese ions and a calcium ionHP Pavilion dv6-1210ew battery; this oxygen-evolving complex binds two water molecules and stores the four oxidizing equivalents that are required to drive the water-oxidizing reaction. Photosystem II is the only known biological enzyme that carries out this oxidation of water. The hydrogen ions contribute to the transmembrane chemiosmotic potential that leads to ATP synthesis. Oxygen is a waste product of light-dependent reactionsHP Pavilion dv6-1210ez battery, but the majority of organisms on Earth use oxygen for cellular respiration, including photosynthetic organisms.
The Calvin cycle
Main articles: Calvin cycle, Carbon fixation, and Light-independent reactions
In the light-independent or dark reactions the enzyme RuBisCO captures CO2 from the atmosphere and in a process that requires the newly formed NADPH, called the Calvin-Benson Cycle, releases three-carbon sugars, which are later combined to form sucrose and starch. The overall equation for the light-independent reactions in green plants is: HP Pavilion dv6-1210sa battery
3 CO2 + 9 ATP + 6 NADPH + 6 H+ → C3H6O3-phosphate + 9 ADP + 8 Pi + 6 NADP+ + 3 H2O
Overview of the Calvin cycle and carbon fixation
To be more specific, carbon fixation produces an intermediate product, which is then converted to the final carbohydrate products. The carbon skeletons produced by photosynthesis are then variously used to form other organic compounds, such as the building material cellulose, as precursors for lipid and amino acid biosynthesisHP Pavilion dv6-1210sb battery, or as a fuel in cellular respiration. The latter occurs not only in plants but also in animals when the energy from plants gets passed through a food chain.
The fixation or reduction of carbon dioxide is a process in which carbon dioxide combines with a five-carbon sugar, ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP), to yield two molecules of a three-carbon compound, glycerate 3-phosphate (GP), also known as 3-phosphoglycerate (PGA). GP, in the presence of ATP and NADPH from the light-dependent stagesHP Pavilion dv6-1210sf battery, is reduced to glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (G3P). This product is also referred to as 3-phosphoglyceraldehyde (PGAL) or even as triose phosphate. Triose is a 3-carbon sugar (see carbohydrates). Most (5 out of 6 molecules) of the G3P produced is used to regenerate RuBP so the process can continue (see Calvin-Benson cycle) HP Pavilion dv6-1210sl battery. The 1 out of 6 molecules of the triose phosphates not "recycled" often condense to form hexose phosphates, which ultimately yield sucrose, starch and cellulose. The sugars produced during carbon metabolism yield carbon skeletons that can be used for other metabolic reactions like the production of amino acids and lipidsHP Pavilion dv6-1210sr battery.
Carbon concentrating mechanisms
Overview of C4 carbon fixation
In hot and dry conditions, plants close their stomata to prevent the loss of water. Under these conditions, CO2 will decrease, and oxygen gas, produced by the light reactions of photosynthesis, will decrease in the stem, not leaves, causing an increase of photorespiration by the oxygenase activity of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase and decrease in carbon fixationHP Pavilion dv6-1210sv battery. Some plants have evolved mechanisms to increase the CO2 concentration in the leaves under these conditions.
Main article: C4 carbon fixation
C4 plants chemically fix carbon dioxide in the cells of the mesophyll by adding it to the three-carbon molecule phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP), a reaction catalyzed by an enzyme called PEP carboxylase, creating the four-carbon organic acid oxaloacetic acid. Oxaloacetic acid or malate synthesized by this process is then translocated to specialized bundle sheath cells where the enzyme RuBisCO and other Calvin cycle enzymes are locatedHP Pavilion dv6-1210tx battery, and where CO2 released by decarboxylation of the four-carbon acids is then fixed by RuBisCO activity to the three-carbon sugar 3-phosphoglyceric acids. The physical separation of RuBisCO from the oxygen-generating light reactions reduces photorespiration and increases CO2 fixation and, thus, photosynthetic capacity of the leaf. C4 plants can produce more sugar than C3 plants in conditions of high light and temperatureHP Pavilion dv6-1211ax battery. Many important crop plants are C4 plants, including maize, sorghum, sugarcane, and millet. Plants that do not use PEP-carboxylase in carbon fixation are called C3 plants because the primary carboxylation reaction, catalyzed by RuBisCO, produces the three-carbon sugar 3-phosphoglyceric acids directly in the Calvin-Benson cycle. Over 90% of plants use C3 carbon fixation, compared to 3% that use C4 carbon fixationHP Pavilion dv6-1211er battery.
Main article: CAM photosynthesis
Xerophytes, such as cacti and most succulents, also use PEP carboxylase to capture carbon dioxide in a process called Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). In contrast to C4 metabolism, which physically separates the CO2 fixation to PEP from the Calvin cycle, CAM temporally separates these two processes. CAM plants have a different leaf anatomy from C3 plantsHP Pavilion dv6-1211sa battery, and fix the CO2 at night, when their stomata are open. CAM plants store the CO2 mostly in the form of malic acid via carboxylation of phosphoenolpyruvate to oxaloacetate, which is then reduced to malate. Decarboxylation of malate during the day releases CO2 inside the leaves, thus allowing carbon fixation to 3-phosphoglycerate by RuBisCO. Sixteen thousand species of plants use CAM. HP Pavilion dv6-1211sg battery
Cyanobacteria possess carboxysomes, which increase the concentration of CO2 around RuBisCO to increase the rate of photosynthesis. An enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, located within the carboxysome releases CO2 from the dissolved hydrocarbonate ions (HCO3–). Before the CO2 diffuses out it is quickly sponged up by RuBisCO, which is concentrated within the carboxysomesHP Pavilion dv6-1211tx battery. HCO3– ions are made from CO2 outside the cell by another carbonic anhydrase and are actively pumped into the cell by a membrane protein. They cannot cross the membrane as they are charged, and within the cytosol they turn back into CO2 very slowy without the help of carbonic anhydrase. This causes the HCO3– ions to accumulate within the cell from where they diffuse into the carboxysomes. HP Pavilion dv6-1212sl battery Pyrenoids in algae and hornworts also act to concentrate CO2 around rubisco.
Order and kinetics
Measuring the photosynthetic efficiency of wheat in the field using an LCpro-SD
Main article: Photosynthetic efficiency
Plants usually convert light into chemical energy with a photosynthetic efficiency of 3–6%. Actual plants' photosynthetic efficiency varies with the frequency of the light being converted, light intensity, temperature and proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and can vary from 0.1% to 8%.HP Pavilion dv6-1212tx battery By comparison, solar panels convert light into electric energy at an efficiency of approximately 6–20% for mass-produced panels, and above 40% in laboratory devices.
Photosynthesis measurement systems are not designed to directly measure the amount of light absorbed by the leaf. Nevertheless, the light response curves that systems like the LCpro-SD produce, do allow comparisons in photosynthetic efficiency between plantsHP Pavilion dv6-1213ax battery.
Plant cells with visible chloroplasts (from a moss, Plagiomnium affine)
Early photosynthetic systems, such as those from green and purple sulfur and green and purple nonsulfur bacteria, are thought to have been anoxygenic, using various molecules as electron donors. Green and purple sulfur bacteria are thought to have used hydrogen and sulfur as an electron donor. Green nonsulfur bacteria used various amino and other organic acidsHP Pavilion dv6-1213tx battery. Purple nonsulfur bacteria used a variety of nonspecific organic molecules. The use of these molecules is consistent with the geological evidence that the atmosphere was highly reduced at that time.
Fossils of what are thought to be filamentous photosynthetic organisms have been dated at 3.4 billion years old.
The main source of oxygen in the atmosphere is oxygenic photosynthesis, and its first appearance is sometimes referred to as the oxygen catastrophe. Geological evidence suggests that oxygenic photosynthesisHP Pavilion dv6-1214ax battery, such as that in cyanobacteria, became important during the Paleoproterozoic era around 2 billion years ago. Modern photosynthesis in plants and most photosynthetic prokaryotes is oxygenic. Oxygenic photosynthesis uses water as an electron donor, which is oxidized to molecular oxygen (O2) in the photosynthetic reaction centerHP Pavilion dv6-1214sl battery.
Symbiosis and the origin of chloroplasts
Several groups of animals have formed symbiotic relationships with photosynthetic algae. These are most common in corals, sponges and sea anemones. It is presumed that this is due to the particularly simple body plans and large surface areas of these animals compared to their volumes. HP Pavilion dv6-1214tx batteryIn addition, a few marine mollusks Elysia viridis and Elysia chlorotica also maintain a symbiotic relationship with chloroplasts they capture from the algae in their diet and then store in their bodies. This allows the mollusks to survive solely by photosynthesis for several months at a time. Some of the genes from the plant cell nucleus have even been transferred to the slugs, so that the chloroplasts can be supplied with proteins that they need to survive. HP Pavilion dv6-1215ax battery
An even closer form of symbiosis may explain the origin of chloroplasts. Chloroplasts have many similarities with photosynthetic bacteria, including a circular chromosome, prokaryotic-type ribosomes, and similar proteins in the photosynthetic reaction center. The endosymbiotic theory suggests that photosynthetic bacteria were acquired (by endocytosis) by early eukaryotic cells to form the first plant cellsHP Pavilion dv6-1215ee battery. Therefore, chloroplasts may be photosynthetic bacteria that adapted to life inside plant cells. Like mitochondria, chloroplasts still possess their own DNA, separate from the nuclear DNA of their plant host cells and the genes in this chloroplast DNA resemble those in cyanobacteria. DNA in chloroplasts codes for redox proteins such as photosynthetic reaction centers. The CoRR Hypothesis proposes that this Co-location is required for Redox RegulationHP Pavilion dv6-1215ei battery.
Cyanobacteria and the evolution of photosynthesis
The biochemical capacity to use water as the source for electrons in photosynthesis evolved once, in a common ancestor of extant cyanobacteria. The geological record indicates that this transforming event took place early in Earth's history, at least 2450–2320 million years ago (Ma), and, it is speculated, much earlier. Available evidence from geobiological studies of Archean (>2500 Ma) HP Pavilion dv6-1215er battery sedimentary rocks indicates that life existed 3500 Ma, but the question of when oxygenic photosynthesis evolved is still unanswered. A clear paleontological window on cyanobacterial evolution opened about 2000 Ma, revealing an already-diverse biota of blue-greens. Cyanobacteria remained principal primary producers throughout the Proterozoic Eon (2500–543 Ma) HP Pavilion dv6-1215ew battery, in part because the redox structure of the oceans favored photoautotrophs capable of nitrogen fixation. Green algae joined blue-greens as major primary producers on continental shelves near the end of the Proterozoic, but only with the Mesozoic (251–65 Ma) radiations of dinoflagellates, coccolithophorids, and diatoms did primary production in marine shelf waters take modern formHP Pavilion dv6-1215ez battery. Cyanobacteria remain critical to marine ecosystems as primary producers in oceanic gyres, as agents of biological nitrogen fixation, and, in modified form, as the plastids of marine algae.
A 2010 study by researchers at Tel Aviv University discovered that the Oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis) converts sunlight into electric power using a pigment called xanthopterin. This is the first scientific evidence of a member of the animal kingdom engaging in photosynthesisHP Pavilion dv6-1215sa battery.
Although some of the steps in photosynthesis are still not completely understood, the overall photosynthetic equation has been known since the 19th century.
Jan van Helmont began the research of the process in the mid-17th century when he carefully measured the mass of the soil used by a plant and the mass of the plant as it grew. After noticing that the soil mass changed very littleHP Pavilion dv6-1215sd battery, he hypothesized that the mass of the growing plant must come from the water, the only substance he added to the potted plant. His hypothesis was partially accurate — much of the gained mass also comes from carbon dioxide as well as water. However, this was a signaling point to the idea that the bulk of a plant's biomass comes from the inputs of photosynthesis, not the soil itselfHP Pavilion dv6-1215sf battery.
Joseph Priestley, a chemist and minister, discovered that, when he isolated a volume of air under an inverted jar, and burned a candle in it, the candle would burn out very quickly, much before it ran out of wax. He further discovered that a mouse could similarly "injure" air. He then showed that the air that had been "injured" by the candle and the mouse could be restored by a plantHP Pavilion dv6-1215sg battery.
In 1778, Jan Ingenhousz, court physician to the Austrian Empress, repeated Priestley's experiments. He discovered that it was the influence of sunlight on the plant that could cause it to revive a mouse in a matter of hours.
In 1796, Jean Senebier, a Swiss pastor, botanist, and naturalist, demonstrated that green plants consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen under the influence of lightHP Pavilion dv6-1215sl battery. Soon afterward, Nicolas-Théodore de Saussure showed that the increase in mass of the plant as it grows could not be due only to uptake of CO2 but also to the incorporation of water. Thus, the basic reaction by which photosynthesis is used to produce food (such as glucose) was outlinedHP Pavilion dv6-1215ss battery.
Cornelis Van Niel made key discoveries explaining the chemistry of photosynthesis. By studying purple sulfur bacteria and green bacteria he was the first scientist to demonstrate that photosynthesis is a light-dependent redox reaction, in which hydrogen reduces carbon dioxideHP Pavilion dv6-1215tx battery.
Robert Emerson discovered two light reactions by testing plant productivity using different wavelengths of light. With the red alone, the light reactions were suppressed. When blue and red were combined, the output was much more substantial. Thus, there were two photosystems, one absorbing up to 600 nm wavelengths, the other up to 700 nm. The former is known as PSIIHP Pavilion dv6-1216ax battery, the latter is PSI. PSI contains only chlorophyll a, PSII contains primarily chlorophyll a with most of the available chlorophyll b, among other pigment. These include phycobilins, which are the red and blue pigments of red and blue algae respectively, and fucoxanthol for brown algae and diatoms. The process is most productive when absorption of quanta are equal in both the PSII and PSI, assuring that input energy from the antenna complex is divided between the PSI and PSII systemHP Pavilion dv6-1216er battery, which in turn powers the photochemistry.
Robert Hill thought that a complex of reactions consisting of an intermediate to cytochrome b6 (now a plastoquinone), another is from cytochrome f to a step in the carbohydrate-generating mechanisms. These are linked by plastoquinone, which does require energy to reduce cytochrome f for it is a sufficient reductantHP Pavilion dv6-1216sa battery. Further experiments to prove that the oxygen developed during the photosynthesis of green plants came from water, were performed by Hill in 1937 and 1939. He showed that isolated chloroplasts give off oxygen in the presence of unnatural reducing agents like iron oxalate, ferricyanide or benzoquinone after exposure to light. The Hill reaction is as followsHP Pavilion dv6-1216sl battery:
2 H2O + 2 A + (light, chloroplasts) → 2 AH2 + O2
where A is the electron acceptor. Therefore, in light, the electron acceptor is reduced and oxygen is evolved.
Samuel Ruben and Martin Kamen used radioactive isotopes to determine that the oxygen liberated in photosynthesis came from the water.
Melvin Calvin and Andrew Benson, along with James Bassham, elucidated the path of carbon assimilation (the photosynthetic carbon reduction cycle) in plantsHP Pavilion dv6-1216ss battery. The carbon reduction cycle is known as the Calvin cycle, which ignores the contribution of Bassham and Benson. Many scientists refer to the cycle as the Calvin-Benson Cycle, Benson-Calvin, and some even call it the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (or CBB) Cycle.
Nobel Prize-winning scientist Rudolph A. Marcus was able to discover the function and significance of the electron transport chainHP Pavilion dv6-1216tx battery.
Otto Heinrich Warburg and Dean Burk discovered the I-quantum photosynthesis reaction that splits the CO2, activated by the respiration.
Louis N.M. Duysens and Jan Amesz discovered that chlorophyll a will absorb one light, oxidize cytochrome f, chlorophyll a (and other pigments) will absorb another light, but will reduce this same oxidized cytochrome, stating the two light reactions are in seriesHP Pavilion dv6-1217ax battery.
The leaf is the primary site of photosynthesis in plants.
There are three main factors affecting photosynthesis and several corollary factors. The three main are:
Light irradiance and wavelength
Carbon dioxide concentration
Light intensity (irradiance), wavelength and temperature
In the early 20th century, Frederick Frost Blackman along with Albert Einstein investigated the effects of light intensity (irradiance) and temperature on the rate of carbon assimilation.
At constant temperature, the rate of carbon assimilation varies with irradiance, initially increasing as the irradiance increases. However, at higher irradiance, this relationship no longer holds and the rate of carbon assimilation reaches a plateauHP Pavilion dv6-1217er battery.
At constant irradiance, the rate of carbon assimilation increases as the temperature is increased over a limited range. This effect is seen only at high irradiance levels. At low irradiance, increasing the temperature has little influence on the rate of carbon assimilation.
These two experiments illustrate vital points: First, from research it is known that, in general, photochemical reactions are not affected by temperatureHP Pavilion dv6-1217ss battery. However, these experiments clearly show that temperature affects the rate of carbon assimilation, so there must be two sets of reactions in the full process of carbon assimilation. These are, of course, the light-dependent 'photochemical' stage and the light-independent, temperature-dependent stage. Second, Blackman's experiments illustrate the concept of limiting factors. Another limiting factor is the wavelength of light. CyanobacteriaHP Pavilion dv6-1217tx battery, which reside several meters underwater, cannot receive the correct wavelengths required to cause photoinduced charge separation in conventional photosynthetic pigments. To combat this problem, a series of proteins with different pigments surround the reaction center. This unit is called a phycobilisome.
Carbon dioxide levels and photorespiration
As carbon dioxide concentrations rise, the rate at which sugars are made by the light-independent reactions increases until limited by other factorsHP Pavilion dv6-1218ca battery. RuBisCO, the enzyme that captures carbon dioxide in the light-independent reactions, has a binding affinity for both carbon dioxide and oxygen. When the concentration of carbon dioxide is high, RuBisCO will fix carbon dioxide. However, if the carbon dioxide concentration is low, RuBisCO will bind oxygen instead of carbon dioxide. This process, called photorespiration, uses energy, but does not produce sugarsHP Pavilion dv6-1218ss battery.
RuBisCO oxygenase activity is disadvantageous to plants for several reasons:
One product of oxygenase activity is phosphoglycolate (2 carbon) instead of 3-phosphoglycerate (3 carbon). Phosphoglycolate cannot be metabolized by the Calvin-Benson cycle and represents carbon lost from the cycle. A high oxygenase activity, therefore, drains the sugars that are required to recycle ribulose 5-bisphosphate and for the continuation of the Calvin-Benson cycleHP Pavilion dv6-1218tx battery.
Phosphoglycolate is quickly metabolized to glycolate that is toxic to a plant at a high concentration; it inhibits photosynthesis.
Salvaging glycolate is an energetically expensive process that uses the glycolate pathway, and only 75% of the carbon is returned to the Calvin-Benson cycle as 3-phosphoglycerate. The reactions also produce ammonia (NH3), which is able to diffuse out of the plant, leading to a loss of nitrogenHP Pavilion dv6-1219ez battery.
A highly simplified summary is:
2 glycolate + ATP → 3-phosphoglycerate + carbon dioxide + ADP + NH3
The salvaging pathway for the products of RuBisCO oxygenase activity is more commonly known as photorespiration, since it is characterized by light-dependent oxygen consumption and the release of carbon dioxide.
Chlorophyll (also chlorophyl) is a green pigment found in almost all plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. Its name is derived from the Greek words χλωρος, chloros ("green") and φύλλονHP Pavilion dv6-1219tx battery, phyllon ("leaf"). Chlorophyll is an extremely important biomolecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants to absorb energy from light. Chlorophyll absorbs light most strongly in the blue portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, followed by the red portion. However, it is a poor absorber of green and near-green portions of the spectrum, hence the green color of chlorophyll-containing tissuesHP Pavilion dv6-1220ec battery. Chlorophyll was first isolated by Joseph Bienaimé Caventou and Pierre Joseph Pelletier in 1817.
Chlorophyll and photosynthesis
Chlorophyll is vital for photosynthesis, which allows plants to absorb energy from light.
Chlorophyll molecules are specifically arranged in and around photosystems that are embedded in the thylakoid membranes of chloroplasts. In these complexes, chlorophyll serves two primary functions. The function of the vast majority of chlorophyll HP Pavilion dv6-1220eg battery (up to several hundred molecules per photosystem) is to absorb light and transfer that light energy by resonance energy transfer to a specific chlorophyll pair in the reaction center of the photosystems.
The two currently accepted photosystem units are Photosystem II and Photosystem I, which have their own distinct reaction center chlorophylls, named P680 and P700, respectively. These pigments are named after the wavelength (in nanometers) of their red-peak absorption maximumHP Pavilion dv6-1220ei battery. The identity, function and spectral properties of the types of chlorophyll in each photosystem are distinct and determined by each other and the protein structure surrounding them. Once extracted from the protein into a solvent (such as acetone or methanol), these chlorophyll pigments can be separated in a simple paper chromatography experiment and, based on the number of polar groups between chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b, will chemically separate out on the paperHP Pavilion dv6-1220ek battery.
The function of the reaction center chlorophyll is to use the energy absorbed by and transferred to it from the other chlorophyll pigments in the photosystems to undergo a charge separation, a specific redox reaction in which the chlorophyll donates an electron into a series of molecular intermediates called an electron transport chain. The charged reaction center chlorophyll (P680+) is then reduced back to its ground state by accepting an electronHP Pavilion dv6-1220er battery. In Photosystem II, the electron that reduces P680+ ultimately comes from the oxidation of water into O2 and H+ through several intermediates. This reaction is how photosynthetic organisms such as plants produce O2 gas, and is the source for practically all the O2 in Earth's atmosphere. Photosystem I typically works in series with Photosystem II; thus the P700+ of Photosystem I is usually reducedHP Pavilion dv6-1220ev battery, via many intermediates in the thylakoid membrane, by electrons ultimately from Photosystem II. Electron transfer reactions in the thylakoid membranes are complex, however, and the source of electrons used to reduce P700+ can vary.
The electron flow produced by the reaction center chlorophyll pigments is used to shuttle H+ ions across the thylakoid membrane, setting up a chemiosmotic potential used mainly to produce ATP chemical energyHP Pavilion dv6-1220ew battery; and those electrons ultimately reduce NADP+ to NADPH, a universal reductant used to reduce CO2 into sugars as well as for other biosynthetic reductions.
Reaction center chlorophyll–protein complexes are capable of directly absorbing light and performing charge separation events without other chlorophyll pigments, but the absorption cross section (the likelihood of absorbing a photon under a given light intensity) is smallHP Pavilion dv6-1220ez battery. Thus, the remaining chlorophylls in the photosystem and antenna pigment protein complexes associated with the photosystems all cooperatively absorb and funnel light energy to the reaction center. Besides chlorophyll a, there are other pigments, called accessory pigments, which occur in these pigment–protein antenna complexes.
A green sea slug, Elysia chlorotica, has been found to use the chlorophyll it has eaten to perform photosynthesis for itselfHP Pavilion dv6-1220sa battery. This process is known as kleptoplasty, and no other animal has been found to have this ability.
Why green and not black?
Black plants can absorb more radiation, and yet most plants are green
It still is unclear exactly why plants have mostly evolved to be green. Green plants reflect mostly green and near-green light to viewers rather than absorbing it. Other parts of the system of photosynthesis still allow green plants to use the green light spectrum (e.g., through a light-trapping leaf structure, carotenoids, etc.) HP Pavilion dv6-1220sb battery. Green plants do not use a large part of the visible spectrum as efficiently as possible. A black plant can absorb more radiation, and this could be very useful, if extra heat produced is effectively disposed of (e.g., some plants must close their openings, called stomata, on hot days to avoid losing too much water, which leaves only conduction, convection, and radiative heat-loss as solutions) HP Pavilion dv6-1220sd battery. The question becomes why the only light-absorbing molecule used for power in plants is green and not simply black.
The biologist John Berman has offered the opinion that evolution is not an engineering process, and so it is often subject to various limitations that an engineer or other designer is not. Even if black leaves were better, evolution's limitations can prevent species from climbing to the absolute highest peak on the fitness landscape. Berman wrote that achieving pigments that work better than chlorophyll could be very difficultHP Pavilion dv6-1220sh battery. In fact, all higher plants (embryophytes) are thought to have evolved from a common ancestor that is a sort of green algae – with the idea being that chlorophyll has evolved only once. 
Shil DasSarma, a microbial geneticist at the University of Maryland, has pointed out that species of archaea do use another light-absorbing molecule, retinal, to extract power from the green spectrum. He described the view of some scientists that such green-light-absorbing archae once dominated the earth environmentHP Pavilion dv6-1220so battery. This could have left open a "niche" for green organisms that would absorb the other wavelengths of sunlight. This is just a possibility, and Berman wrote that scientists are still not convinced of any one explanation.
Space-filling model of the chlorophyll a molecule
Chlorophyll is a chlorin pigment, which is structurally similar to and produced through the same metabolic pathway as other porphyrin pigments such as heme. At the center of the chlorin ring is a magnesium ion. At the time of its discovery in the early 1900sHP Pavilion dv6-1220sp battery, this was the first time that this element had been detected in living tissue. For the structures depicted in this article, some of the ligands attached to the Mg2+ center are omitted for clarity. The chlorin ring can have several different side chains, usually including a long phytol chain. There are a few different forms that occur naturally, but the most widely distributed form in terrestrial plants is chlorophyll aHP Pavilion dv6-1220ss battery. After initial work done by German chemist Richard Willstätter spanning from 1905 to 1915, the general structure of chlorophyll a was elucidated by Hans Fischer in 1940. By 1960, when most of the stereochemistry of chlorophyll a was known, Robert Burns Woodward published a total synthesis of the molecule. In 1967, the last remaining stereochemical elucidation was completed by Ian Fleming, HP Pavilion dv6-1220st battery and in 1990 Woodward and co-authors published an updated synthesis. Chlorophyll f was announced to be present in cyanobacteria and other oxygenic microorganisms that form stromatolites in 2010; a molecular formula of C55H70O6N4Mg and a structure of (2-formyl)-chlorophyll a were deduced based on NMR, optical and mass spectra. The different structures of chlorophyll are summarized belowHP Pavilion dv6-1220tx battery:
Absorbance spectra of free chlorophyll a (green) and b (red) in a solvent. The spectra of chlorophyll molecules are slightly modified in vivo depending on specific pigment-protein interactions.
Measurement of the absorption of light is complicated by the solvent used to extract it from plant material, which affects the values obtained,
In diethyl ether, chlorophyll a has approximate absorbance maxima of 430 nm and 662 nm, while chlorophyll b has approximate maxima of 453 nm and 642 nm. HP Pavilion dv6-1221ax battery
The absorption peaks of chlorophyll a are at 665 nm and 465 nm. Chlorophyll a fluoresces at 673 nm (maximum) and 726 nm. The peak molar absorption coefficient of chlorophyll a exceeds 105 M−1 cm−1, which is among the highest for small-molecule organic compounds.
In 90% acetone-water, the peak absorption wavelengths of chlorophyll a are 430 nm and 664 nm; peaks for chlorophyll b are 460 nm and 647 nmHP Pavilion dv6-1221eo battery; peaks for chlorophyll c1 are 442 nm and 630 nm; peaks for chlorophyll c2 are 444 nm and 630 nm; peaks for chlorophyll d are 401 nm, 455 nm and 696 nm.
Chlorophyll content meter measuring chlorophyll content by absorption
By measuring the absorption of light in the red and far red regions it is possible to estimate the concentration of chlorophyll within a leaf.
While absorption instruments have been proven over time to work well as a non-destructive test on many types of samples, they do have limitations. Absorption technique limitationsHP Pavilion dv6-1221sl battery:
The sample to be measured must completely cover the instrument’s aperture, with no holes.
Samples must be thin enough to allow transmission of the measuring wavelengths of light.
Surfaces must be relatively flat and uniform.
Variable fluorescence (the Kautsky induction effect) caused by the red wavelength of absorption instruments, limits the repeatability of measurements at the same locationHP Pavilion dv6-1221tx battery.
Selection of the measuring area, on smaller leaves, can cause measurement variations due to internal leaf structure variation. Veins and midribs can cause significant variation on samples.
Wavelengths used in absorption methods, typically limit linear correlation with chemical chlorophyll content methods to concentration levels below 300 mg/m2.
As a result, absorption instruments do not work with conifer needles, turf grasses, Arabidopsis leaves, moss, most CAM plants such as prickly pear cactusHP Pavilion dv6-1222eo battery, and Agave, fruit, stems, petioles, lichens, and algae on rocks. Furthermore, it is difficult to get reliable readings on very small leaf plants such as immature rice and wheat.
A superior method is to measure the chlorophyll content using chlorophyll fluorescence. Gitelson (1999) states, "The ratio between chlorophyll fluorescence, at 735 nm and the wavelength range 700nm to 710 nmHP Pavilion dv6-1222et battery, F735/F700 was found to be linearly proportional to the chlorophyll content (with determination coefficient, r2, more than 0.95) and thus this ratio can be used as a precise indicator of chlorophyll content in plant leaves." Non-destructive, hand-held meters use this effect to measure the chlorophyll content of samples where traditional absorbance techniques cannot be used. This new method has many advantages over older, absorption techniquesHP Pavilion dv6-1222sl battery. These include
Small samples can be analysed for chlorophyll content
Samples do not need to fill the measuring aperture, so small samples can be measured.
Samples do not need to allow transmission of the measuring beam, so thick samples can be measured.
Surfaces do not need to be flat and uniform, so difficult plant morphologies can be measured.
No Kautsky induction effect, so measurements can be repeated rapidly at the same sight.
Small sample area, so nat
Higher measuring range (675 mg/m2, as opposed to 300 mg/m2 with absorption techniques), so many more samples can be measured.
By measuring chlorophyll fluorescence, plant ecophysiology can be investigated. Chlorophyll fluorometers are used by plant researchers to assess plant stress.
Further information: Protochlorophyllide
In plants, chlorophyll may be synthesized from succinyl-CoA and glycine, although the immediate precursor to chlorophyll a and b is protochlorophyllideHP Pavilion dv6-1223eo battery. In Angiosperm plants, the last step, conversion of protochlorophyllide to chlorophyll, is light-dependent and such plants are pale (etiolated) if grown in the darkness. Non-vascular plants and green algae have an additional light-independent enzyme and grow green in the darkness insteadHP Pavilion dv6-1223sf battery.
Chlorophyll itself is bound to proteins and can transfer the absorbed energy in the required direction. Protochlorophyllide occurs mostly in the free form and, under light conditions, acts as a photosensitizer, forming highly toxic free radicals. Hence, plants need an efficient mechanism of regulating the amount of chlorophyll precursor. In angiosperms, this is done at the step of aminolevulinic acid (ALA) HP Pavilion dv6-1223sl battery, one of the intermediate compounds in the biosynthesis pathway. Plants that are fed by ALA accumulate high and toxic levels of protochlorophyllide; so do the mutants with the damaged regulatory system.
Further information: Chlorosis
Chlorosis is a condition in which leaves produce insufficient chlorophyll, turning them yellow. Chlorosis can be caused by a nutrient deficiency of iron--called iron chlorosis—or by a shortage of magnesium or nitrogenHP Pavilion dv6-1224eo battery. Soil pH sometimes plays a role in nutrient-caused chlorosis; many plants are adapted to grow in soils with specific pH levels and their ability to absorb nutrients from the soil can be dependent on this. Chlorosis can also be caused by pathogens including viruses, bacteria and fungal infections, or sap-sucking insects.
Chlorophyll is registered as a food additive (colorant), and its E number is E140. Chefs use chlorophyll to color a variety of foods and beverages greenHP Pavilion dv6-1225ee battery, such as pasta and absinthe. Chlorophyll is not soluble in water, and it is first mixed with a small quantity of vegetable oil to obtain the desired solution. Extracted liquid chlorophyll was considered to be unstable and always denatured until 1997, when Frank S. & Lisa Sagliano used freeze-drying of liquid chlorophyll at the University of Florida and stabilized it as a powder, preserving it for future use. HP Pavilion dv6-1225ef battery