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What is photosynthesis?

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Quick Answer

Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants manufacture their own food. The process takes place in small structures within the plant’s cells called chloroplasts. Photosynthesis evolved about 3 billion years ago, yet it remains the most important method for harvesting the sun’s energy on the planet.

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What is photosynthesis?
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Full Answer

Most chloroplasts reside in cells located in a plant’s leaves, but they occasionally occur elsewhere as well. The chloroplasts use a substance called chlorophyll to absorb the energy carried by sunlight. Once this energy is absorbed, the chloroplasts combine it with carbon dioxide and water to produce sugars. The sugars allow the plants to store the energy for future use. Photosynthesis also produces oxygen, which is necessary for all animals to breathe.

Green plants that live in the world’s rivers, lakes and oceans engage in photosynthesis as well, but they must live relatively close to the surface. Many other simple organisms, such as algae and cyanobacteria, engage in photosynthesis. Nevertheless, scientists suspect that the process only evolved one time.

Scientists suspect that chloroplasts were initially independent organisms. Over millions of years, larger organisms engulfed them, and formed a symbiotic relationship with the small organelles. Chloroplasts have their own DNA, which most scientists interpret as evidence for the independent origin of the structures.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is an explanation of photosynthesis for kids?

    A:

    Photosynthesis is the process that plants use to convert the energy in sunlight into food that they use for energy. In order to carry out photosynthesis, plants need not only sunlight but also water and carbon dioxide. The food they make is called glucose, which is a simple sugar.

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  • Q:

    What is a producer in biology terms?

    A:

    Biologists use the term producer to describe green plants that synthesize food through the process photosynthesis. Producers form the bottom rung of the food chain, and they serve as food for animals, which bear the name consumers. Without producers, the food chain would collapse because all other living organisms depend on them for food.

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  • Q:

    Where does a plant make its food?

    A:

    Plants produce food in their leaves through photosynthesis, a process that uses chlorophyll to synthesize sustenance through carbon dioxide, sunlight, water and mineral-related nutrients. Chemical energy from photosynthesis is stored as carbohydrate molecules. Chloroplasts are the cellular structures responsible for photosynthesis, and oxygen is a byproduct of this chemical process.

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  • Q:

    How do plants grow?

    A:

    Plant growth is caused by water that is absorbed by the plant's roots and sunlight that spurs photosynthesis, which is the process of creating food for the plant. Plants also need space, time, clean air, healthy soil and nutrients to grow. The main ingredients that plants need are phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium.

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