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Photosynthesis is a vital process that not only allows plants to convert carbon dioxide into organic compounds but also plays a crucial role in the Earth's carbon cycle. By removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, plants help mitigate climate change by acting as carbon sinks.
Through the process of photosynthesis, plants are able to convert carbon dioxide from the air into carbon-rich sugars, which they use to build other carbon-rich compounds and plant tissues. Here's a breakdown of how this process works:
Absorption of Light: Photosynthesis begins when plants absorb sunlight through specialized pigments called chlorophyll, located in their leaves and other green parts.
Conversion of Light Energy: The absorbed light energy is converted into chemical energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate), through a series of complex reactions known as the light-dependent reactions.
Carbon Dioxide Fixation: In the next step, plants take in carbon dioxide from the air through tiny pores called stomata on their leaves. Within the leaf cells, the enzyme RuBisCO (ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase) facilitates the fixation of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Calvin Cycle: The fixed carbon dioxide is then used in a series of reactions known as the Calvin cycle or the light-independent reactions. In this cycle, the carbon dioxide molecules are combined with the chemical products of the light-dependent reactions (ATP and NADPH) to produce glucose and other carbon-rich compounds.
Building Plant Tissues: The glucose and other carbon-rich compounds produced during photosynthesis serve as building blocks for the synthesis of various plant tissues, including leaves, stems, roots, and reproductive structures. These compounds also provide the energy needed for plant growth and development.