to Teacher Guidelink arrow

Photosynthesis

 



The latest version of Flash Player (9,0,11,0) is required to view this video.
Download the Flash Player Here!

Overview
Of all the organisms in the natural world, green plants are the only ones that manufacture their own food. This process is called photosynthesis and begins when light strikes the plant's leaves (both sunlight and artificial light can power this process). Cells in the plant's leaves, called chloroplasts, contain a green pigment called chlorophyll which interacts with sunlight to split the water in the plant into its basic components. Carbon dioxide enters the leaf through holes called stomata and combines with the stored energy in the chloroplasts through a chemical reaction to produce a simple sugar. The sugar is then transported through tubes in the leaf to the roots, stems and fruits of the plants. Some of the sugar is used immediately by the plant for energy; some is stored as starch; and some is built into a more complex substance, like plant tissue or cellulose. Fortunately for us, plants often produce more food than they need, which they store in stems, roots, seeds or fruit. We can obtain this energy directly by eating the plant itself or its products, like carrots, rice or potatoes. Photosynthesis is the first step in the food chain which connects all living things. Every creature on earth depends to some degree on green plants. The oxygen that is released by the process of photosynthesis is an essential exchange for all living things. Forests have been called the "lungs of the earth" because animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide in the process of breathing, and plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen in the process of photosynthesis. But every year, over 28 million acres of tropical forest are cut and then burned to clear land for farming. Deforestation is also blamed for the "greenhouse effect" (global warming) which results from the build-up of carbon dioxide and other gases.

to Teacher Guidelink arrow