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What is the form of energy captured by photosynthesis?

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Quick Answer

According to Scitable by Nature Education, photosynthesis captures solar energy. It then transforms it into glucose, a stable form of chemical energy capable of lasting for several hundred years.

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Full Answer

Photosynthetic cells transform solar energy into chemical energy through a two-step process. Green plants, cyanobacteria and phytoplankton all contain photosynthetic cells that use special pigments to absorb light energy from the sun. Each type of pigment absorbs certain light colors and reflects others. The most important pigment, called chlorophyll, absorbs blue and red light and reflects green light, which explains why plants appear green. During this light-dependent reaction, these pigments selectively absorb light and then transfer the energy down an electron chain.

The second part of the process is a light-independent or "dark" reaction that stores the solar energy absorbed by pigments. Cells use adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and NADPH to store energy. ATP and carbon dioxide combine to form glucose, which serves as fuel for the plant or organism.

Much of the oxygen humans and animals breathe forms during the process of photosynthesis, making it vital to the continued existence of life on Earth. Photosynthesis also plays an important role in driving the global carbon cycle, a process that affects moisture levels and global temperatures.

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