This week we learned what the structure of a plant looks like and how photosynthesis is used to produce the health of the plant. Now as we all know, photosynthesis is the process by which a plant sustains its life. Three things are needed for this process to work effectively, water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide. So let me break down for you why those things are need for photosynthesis and what the bi-product is from it all.
To begin with, let’s talk about the roots of a plant and what happens. The roots of the plant are complex systems, composed of the taproot, or, the main root from which everything branches out from, the rest of the plant also grows out of it. Growing out from the taproot are fibrous roots. Both the taproots and the fibrous roots suck up water and dissolved minerals. The water and dissolved minerals travel up the Phloem, which are tubes within the plant structure. The Phloem transports the water and minerals throughout the plant, much like our blood veins are conduits in which our blood flows.
The water travels through the Phloem and disperses throughout the plant, taking H2O and nutrients to the palisade mesophyll and spongy mesophyll. The mesophyll is where all the action happens. Within the Palisade, there are flat stacks of membranes called granum, which harbor thylakoids which have all the pigments and chloroplasts necessary to begin the photosynthetic process. Here’s where the need for sunlight comes in.
So, as the sun warms the thylakoids, the light photons hit the pigments, electrons are released. During the release, enzymes within the plant begin breaking down water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The hydrogen is then broken down into ions and electrons. They are then carried back into the chloroplasts to begin the process of warming and releasing. The oxygen atoms are sent to the phloem which expel them and H2O through the stomata, tiny valves under the leaves of the plant which open to release water back out into the world in order to keep a constant flow of nutrients.
The plant needs to release the water because it has no valve to pump it throughout it’s structure. It merely continues to suck up the water and the pressure of that and the draining H2O going out the stomata, drag along the water molecules because they like to stick together. The stomata actually act like pressure valves. The more water is available, the more they plump up and open. As water becomes scarce or heat become unbearable, the pressure is not enough to keep them open, so they close in order to retain water.
Now that I’ve covered that, let’s get back into the process. So, we have talked about how the plant uses sunlight to break apart atoms and send of electrons, and how it replaces those electrons with stolen hydrogen ions and electrons. So where do those stolen bits go? Once they are released, they are used to power some enzymes within the leaf and those enzymes are used to create glucose from the Co2 gathered from the air, and voila, you have photosynthesis!
Last little tid bits:
You can visit ftexploring.com for more information. I used some of their information to flesh out my knowledge of the processes.