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the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to
synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis in plants generally
involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct.

Conditions for photosynthesis

Below are things that plants need for photosynthesis:
Carbon dioxide (A colorless, naturally occurring odorless gas found in the air we breathe. It has
a scientific symbol CO2. CO2 is produced by burning carbon and organic compounds. It is also
produced when plants and animals breathe out during respiration)
Light (Even though both natural and artificial light is OK for plants, natural sunlight is usually
great for photosynthesis because they have other natural UV properties that help the plant)
Chlorophyll (This is the green pigment found in the leaves of plants)
Nutrients and minerals (Chemicals and organic compounds which the plant roots absorb from
the soil)
Below are things that plants make by photosynthesis:


(light energy is shown in brackets because it is not a substance)

Plants get CO2 from the air through their leaves, and water from the ground through their roots.
Light energy comes from the sun.
The oxygen produced is released into the air from the leaves. The glucose produced can be turned
into other substances, such as starch, which is used as a store of energy. This energy can be
released by respiration.
If factors that aid in photosynthesis are absent or less, it can negatively affect the fruits of the
plant. For example, less light, insects that chew on leaves, less water can make plants such as
(tomato plant) suffer and produce less yield.

Where does photosynthesis take place?

Photosynthesis takes place inside plant cells in small things calledchloroplasts. Chloroplasts
(mostly found in the mesophyll layer) contain a green substance called chlorophyll. Below are the
other parts of the cell that work with the chloroplast to make photosynthesis happen.

Structure of a mesophyll cell

What role do these parts play?

Cell walls: provide structural and mechanical support, protect cells against pathogens,
maintain and determine cell shape, control the rate and direction of growth and generally provide
form to the plant.
Cytoplasm: provides the platform for most chemical processes, controlled by enzymes.
Cell membrane: acts as a barrier, controlling the movement of substances into and out of the
Chloroplasts: As described above, simply contain chlorophyll, a green substance which
absorbs light energy for photosynthesis.
Vacuole: the container that holds moisture, and keeps the plant turgid.
Nucleus: this contains genetic make (the DNA), which controls the activities of the cell.
Chlorophyll absorbs the light energy needed to make photosynthesis happen. It is important to
note that not all the colour wavelengths of light are absorbed. Plants mostly absorb red and blue
wavelengths they do not absorb light from the green range.

Carbon dioxide in photosynthesis

Plants get carbon dioxide from the air through their leaves. The carbon dioxide diffuses through
small holes in the underside of the leaf called stomata. (singular: stoma. plural: stomata)
The lower part of the leaf has loose-fitting cells, to allow carbon dioxide to reach the other cells in
the leaf. This also allows the oxygen produced in photosynthesis to leave the leaf easily.

Carbon dioxide is present in the air we breathe, at very low concentrations. Even though it forms
about .04% of the air, it is a needed factor in light-independent photosynthesis.
In higher concentrations, more carbon is incorporated into carbohydrate, therefore increasing the
rate of photosynthesis in light-independent reactions.

Light for photosynthesis

A leaf usually has a large surface area, so that it can absorb a lot of light. Its' top surface is
protected from water loss, disease and weather damage by a waxy layer. The upper part of the
leaf is where the light falls, and it contains a type of cell called a palisade cell. This is adapted to

absorb a lot of light. It has lots of chloroplasts.

In light-dependent reactions (as explained in light and dark reactions), photosynthesis increases
with more light. More chlorophyll molecules are ionised and more ATP and NADPH are generated as
more light photons are focussed on a green leaf. Even though light is extremely important in lightdependent reactions, it is important to note that excessive light can damage chlorophyll and
photosynthesis can reduce.
Light-dependant reactions do not rely too much on temperature, water or carbon dioxide, even
though they are all necessary for the process to complete. This means cold or hot, the reactions
will occur as long as there is enough light.

Water for Photosynthesis

Plants get the water they need for photosynthesis through their roots. The roots have a type of cell
called a root hair cell - these project out from the root into the soil. Roots have a big surface area
and thin walls, which allow water to pass through them easily.

Root cells do not contain chloroplasts, as they are normally in the dark and cannot
Plants need water for other important things such as:
provide dissolved minerals that keep the plants healthy
provide a medium for transporting minerals
keep the plant firm and upright
keep the plant cool and hydrated
allow other chemical reactions to occur in plant cells

The Structure of the Roots

The water absorbed by the root hair cells passes through the plant in xylem tubes, and eventually
reaches the leaves. Energy from the sun is eventually used to convert water into hydrogen and
Structure of the root hairs

This hydrogen is combined with the carbon dioxide in order to produce the food (glucose) for the
plant, whereas the oxygen, which is a by-product of the entire process, is let out through the
If a plant does not absorb enough water, it will wilt or go floppy. Without water, it may also not
photosynthesise quickly enough, and it may die.
Roots systems and root hairs are adapted to play a special role for the plant. The root network
spreads out to absorb water (and mineral salts) from a large amount of soil. It is also adapted to
hold the plant firmly and provide support (anchor) to the plant in the soil.
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