The Effects of Photosynthesis on the Atmosphere

During photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into the atmosphere. The oxygen produced from photosynthesis makes it possible for animals and humans to breathe. “”A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs/year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings” (McAliney,1993). However, at night photosynthesis is not active. Therefore carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise. As the production of fossil fuels increase, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increase as well. Plants are adapting to these higher levels and must take in water from the atmosphere around them. This adaptation contributes to our planets rising temperatures.

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Description of Photosynthesis: Photosynthesis is a processed used by plants, bacteria, and single cellular organisms to create energy. Photosynthesis has two stages, light reaction, and the Calvin Cycle. In light reactions, light energy in the thylakoid membrane is converted into chemical energy in the form of ATP and NADPH. The Calvin Cycle forms organic compounds from carbon dioxide and energy. The Calvin Cycle takes place in the stroma. Chlorophyll A and B are pigments found in cells to help carry out photosynthesis. Chlorophyll A is directly involved in light reactions and Chlorophyll B helps Chlorophyll A with capturing light energy. Two photosystems are used in photosynthesis. In the light reaction, electrons enter two chlorophyll A molecules from photosystem II, are accepted by the Primary Electron Acceptor. These lost electrons from light in photosystem I and II are replaced and NADPH is formed. Through these processes, carbon dioxide and water with light energy are formed in glucose and oxygen.

Description of Cellular Respiration:

Definition: cellular respiration is a complicated metabolic pathway that is used by all kingdoms of life (bacteria, protists, fungi, etc). For prokaryotes, cellular respiration happens in the cytoplasm, whereas cellular respiration occurs in the mitochondria of eukaryotes. There are three main stages of cellular respiration: glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, and electron transport.

Glycolysis: glucose, a type of sugar, is broken into 2 molecules of pyruvate.

Works with/without oxygen…

In anaerobic processes (oxygen is not present), ATP can be made by cells through fermentation.

In aerobic processes, energy is produced with oxygen present.

Krebs Cycle (Citric Acid Cycle): there are 8 different steps in this process

CoA and oxaloacetate combine to form citrate

Citrate becomes isocitrate

Isocitrate becomes alpha-ketoglutarate through oxidation. Carbon dioxide is released, and an NADH molecule is formed

Alpha-ketoglutarate becomes oxidized and becomes a 4 carbon molecule. It later forms succinyl CoA, and another NADH molecule is made.

Succinyl CoA converts to succinate. Here, a GTP molecule is created.

Succinate turns into fumarate. One FADH2 molecule is made.

Fumarate becomes malate

Malate then becomes oxaloacetate. NADH is made here.

Electron Transport: the last step of the cellular respiration process

One molecule of glucose makes 34 ATP

The proton gradient helps to power the production of ATP

Needs oxygen in order for the process to work

Compare and Contrast Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration:

6CO2 – Both because carbon dioxide is a reactant for photosynthesis and a product for cellular respiration.

Light Reactions – Photosynthesis because light reactions are the first stage of photosynthesis that converts

Calvin Cycle-Photosynthesis because the Calvin Cycle is the second stage of photosynthesis that makes glucose and oxygen.

Sunlight – Photosynthesis because sunlight is required for the light reactions during photosynthesis but isn’t needed for cellular respiration.

Stroma –

Oxygen – Both. In photosynthesis, oxygen is a product and in cellular respiration it is a reactant.

Chlorophyll – Photosynthesis because chlorophyll is used to capture light for the first stage of photosynthesis.

ATP – Both because ATP is created in both photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

Glucose – Both because glucose is a product for photosynthesis and a reactant for cellular respiration.

Chloroplast – Photosynthesis because it is the site of photosynthesis but the mitochondria are the site of cellular respiration.

Energy – Both because both photosynthesis and cellular respiration are used by the cell to make energy.

Water – Both because water is a reactant for photosynthesis and a reactant used in cellular respiration.

Mitochondria- Cellular Respiration because the mitochondria are the site of cellular respiration while the chloroplast is the site of photosynthesis.

Thylakoids- Photosynthesis because it occurs in the membrane of the thylakoid inside of the chloroplast.

Photosynthesis – Both, the products of photosynthesis are the reactants for cellular respiration and the products of cellular respiration are the reactants for photosynthesis.

Cellular Respiration- Both, the products of cellular respiration are the reactant for photosynthesis and the products of photosynthesis are the reactants for cellular respiration.

Heterotroph – Cellular Respiration because heterotrophs cannot perform photosynthesis because they don’t have chloroplasts.


Interactive: Experiments have been done to study how different types of music affect plant growth. We are testing

Most Important Process:

Our group believes that the most important process is photosynthesis because it is the process that gives us oxygen to live. The chloroplasts of plants help conduct photosynthesis. There are two main steps of photosynthesis: light reactions and the Calvin Cycle. The products of photosynthesis are oxygen and glucose (which is used as energy for plants). Humans and animals need oxygen in order to live and the process of photosynthesis gives off oxygen, meaning that photosynthesis is essential to our existence. Also, plants are autotrophs, meaning they can produce their own energy. They produce their energy through the process of photosynthesis. As heterotrophs, we cannot create our own energy, so we rely on plants to give us the energy that we need. If plants were not able to do photosynthesis, we wouldn’t be able to survive.

Closing Statement Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are both processes that help us through our everyday lives. The reactants of photosynthesis are carbon dioxide and water, and the products of this process are sugar and oxygen. The reactants of cellular respiration are sugar and oxygen, and its products are carbon dioxide, water, and ATP. The two processes are almost opposites of one another. While photosynthesis can only be done by plants, cellular respiration can occur in all forms of life. The two processes are very complex and are crucial for organisms to survive. Our group believes that photosynthesis is the most important process, but that doesn’t mean that cellular respiration isn’t important. There are several differences between the two processes. Despite the fact that these two processes are different, they have one thing in common: they are necessary for us to live normally. The two processes are crucial to our lives and, without them, we would not be able to live.

What happens when cellular respiration is not working properly? DISEASE!

Leigh’s syndrome

Explanation: This disease is caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA or by deficiencies of the pyruvate dehydrogenase enzyme. Breakdowns in the electron transport chain and the conversion of pyruvate to acetyl CoA have been linked to causes of this disease.

Symptoms: Loss of head control and other motor skills, vomiting, irritability, continuous crying, and seizures.

Treatments: Certain vitamins that are needed for cellular respiration can be given to children with this disease. Thiamin; coenzyme Q10; and vitamins C, K3, and E. (Vo et al. 2007).

Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON)

Explanation: LHON is inherited through a mutation in the mitochondria. This disease can only be transferred to a fetus through the mother, a male’s sperm cannot transfer this disease. Once transferred from the mother to the child the lack of mitochondrial respiration causes the loss of vision.

Symptoms: Clouding and blurring of vision, loss of visual acuity, optic atrophy can be developed, etc.

Treatments: There are no known treatments at the moment. But, scientists and medical professionals are working on eye drops and therapies that can help.

Myoclonus epilepsy

Explanation: A mitochondrial defect along with tissue abnormalities cause this disease. The mitochondrial defect affects the cellular respiration and therefore causes the disease.

Symptoms: Seizures, difficulty speaking, muscle weakness, loss of coordination, dementia, short stature, and build-up of lactic acid.

Treatments: This disease is difficult to treat because everyone has a different circumstance. Anti-seizure medication is common but doesn’t treat the disease as a whole. Other treatments include epilepsy surgeries, ketogenic diet, and anti-seizure devices.


McAliney, Mike. Arguments for Land Conservation: Documentation and Information Sources for Land Resources Protection, Trust for Public Land, Sacramento, CA, December 1993

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The Effects of Photosynthesis on the Atmosphere. (2019, Nov 13). Retrieved November 30, 2022 , from

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