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AP Bio Lab: Cell Respiration


The lab was performed in order to test the effect of germination on oxygen use. Based on
that, a hypothesis was formed. It stated, “If germination is occurring, then more oxygen will be
used”. To test this hypothesis, germinating and non-germinating peas were placed into
respirometers to measure the amount of oxygen used. The measures on the respirometers were
recorded. Based on the data, the hypothesis was supported. The germinating pears used up more
oxygen than the non-germinating ones.


If oxygen is available to an organism it will perform aerobic respiration or, cellular

respiration. If there is not oxygen present, it will perform anaerobic respiration and fermentation
(3). In aerobic respiration, oxygen is the most important thing. The most important product of
cellular respiration is energy in the form of ATP. At the end of cellular respiration is the electron
transport chain. The last link in the ETC is oxygen. Basically, it allows cellular respiration to
make tons of energy (1). Also, as temperature rises, so does the rate of cellular respiration. If
temperature decreases, so does the rate of cellular respiration (2).

In the lab, a hypothesis was created in order to determine the effect of germination on
oxygen consumption. The hypothesis stated, “If germination is occurring, then more oxygen will
be used”. This hypothesis was made based on the information that germinating peas are growing
and need more energy to develop. Also their main way of producing energy is through cellular
respiration which requires oxygen.

The procedure performed was made in order to properly test the hypothesis and
germination’s effect on oxygen consumption. During the lab constants were kept in order to
make sure changes in the dependant variable were directly related to the independent variable.
The procedure works because when the respirometers are set up, they can be used to measure the
amount of oxygen consumed. As the colored water moves in the pipette it is able to be measured
and recorded. Then, using the corrected difference, the amount of oxygen consumed is able to be

Experimental Design:

A bath was prepared at 10°C. Then 25 germinating peas were placed in a graduated cylinder and
underwent water displacement. The same technique was used to find the volume 25 non-
germinating peas and glass beads were added to make the volume equal that of the germinating
peas. Then the same process was used to find the number of glass bead it would take to equal the
volume of 25 germinating peas. Three vials were assembled and absorbent cotton was placed in
the bottom of each vial. Then the cotton was saturated with 15% KOH using a dropper. Then
unsaturated cotton was placed on top of the saturated cotton. The germinating peas were placed
in one tube, the non-germinating ones were placed in another tube, and the glass beads were
placed in the third tube. The respirometers were then placed in the cold water bath with the tips
sticking out of the water. Then after 7 minutes, a drop of food coloring was placed on the pipette
tip. The respirometer measures were recorded every 10 minutes.

 Independent Variable: Contents of the Respirometer

 Dependent Variable: Oxygen Used
 Control Variable: Just Glass Beads
 Controls: Temperature: The bath was kept at a constant temperature so that the data
would be accurate, Same Amount of KOH: This is so that each respirometer is under the
same conditions so that if there is any change it will be due to the contents, Air Pressure:
This is so the peas respire in the same way throughout the experiment


Figure 1

Time (min) Beads Alone Germinating Peas Dry Peas and Beads
Reading Diff. Reading Diff. Corrected Reading Diff. Corrected
at Time at Time Diff. at Time Diff.
Initial (0) .85 .78 .86 .01 .03
5 .87 .02 .73 .05 .07 .87 .05 .11
10 .91 .06 .7 .03 .09 .91
15 N/A .69 .09 N/A
20 N/A .67 .11 N/A
The chart displays the distance the food coloring traveled in the respirometers that were sitting in
a 10°C bath. It also shows the difference and the corrected difference.

Figure 2
This graphs the average data of the entire class for the corrected difference of germinating and
non-germinating and 25°C and 10°C.


Based on the data, the hypothesis was supported. When germination was occurring, more
oxygen was consumed.

In figure 2, the germinating peas at 25°C reaches .46 while the non-germinating peas at
25°C only reach .12. Also the germinating peas at 10°C consume more oxygen than the non-
germinating ones. This shows that the germinating peas use more oxygen then non-germinating
ones. As a seed is germinating and growing it needs more energy and thus more oxygen.
Germinating peas get nearly all of their energy from aerobic respiration so a lot of oxygen is
needed. Also, the peas at room temperature consumed more oxygen than the peas at 10°C. This
is because room temperature is around the ideal temperature for cellular respiration. As
temperature decreases cellular respiration slows down. As the temperature increases so does
cellular respiration until a certain point. These explain the trends in the graph. The one that
reaches the highest is the germinating peas at 25°C while the one that reaches the lowest is the
non-germinating peas at 10°C.
The lab was performed with the question in mind, “does germination affect oxygen
consumption during cellular respiration”? The data and the results show that yes, germinating
peas use more oxygen than non-germinating peas.

The lab was performed with a few errors. The first one was when the teacher was putting
the food coloring on the tip of the respirometer, the food coloring came out. However this was
quickly fixed and should not have had much of an impact. Also, during the period after the food
coloring was put on the tip the door to the room was opened. This caused a change in the air
pressure which overall affected the results. In the future the environment should be kept more
stable and being more careful is always a good thing.

It is predicted that, if the same lab were done with and reptile and a mammal, both weigh
25g, at 10°C than the mammal would use more oxygen. This is because reptiles are cold blooded
so their internal body temperature would be 10C while mammals have self regulated body heat.
Not only does this mean that the mammal needs to produce more energy through cellular
respiration to maintain homeostasis but also, the mammal’s body temperature is more suitable
for cellular respiration.

It is predicted that, if respiration of a small mammal were studied at both 21°C and 10°C
then they would use about the same amount of oxygen. This is because mammals have self
regulated heat. So basically the temperatures cellular respiration is taking place in are the same in
both environments
1. Cellular Respiration. (n.d.). Cellular Respiration. Retrieved January 5, 2014, from
2. Freeman, M. (n.d.). The Effects of Temperature on Aerobic Cellular Respiration. The Effects of
Temperature on Aerobic Cellular Respiration. Retrieved January 5, 2014, from 0jbasey/abstracts%202006/13.htm
3. Cellular Respiration. (n.d.). Cellular Respiration. Retrieved January 4, 2014, from