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Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy, normally from the sun, into chemical energy that the plant needs to grow. Carbohydrates, such as sugars, are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water. Oxygen is also released but is mostly a waste product.

Most plants, most algae, and cyanobacteria perform the process of photosynthesis, and are called photoautotrophs. Photosynthesis maintains atmospheric oxygen levels and supplies all of the organic compounds and most of the energy necessary for all life on Earth.

Although photosynthesis is performed differently by different species, the process always begins when energy from light is absorbed by proteins called reaction centres that contain green chlorophyll pigments. In plants, these proteins are held inside organelles called chloroplasts, which are most abundant in leaf cells, while in bacteria they are embedded in the plasma membrane.

In these light-dependent reactions, some energy is used to strip electrons from suitable substances such as water, producing oxygen gas. Furthermore, two further compounds are generated: reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the "energy currency" of cells.
Posted on May 8th, 2014
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