In photosynthesis , light energy is converted to chemical energy, which is stored in the form of glucose sugar. Inorganic compounds carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight are used to produce glucose, oxygen, and water. Photosynthetic organisms use carbon to generate organic molecules carbohydrates , lipids , and proteins and build biological mass. The oxygen produced as a bi-product of photosynthesis is used by many organisms, including plants and animals , for cellular respiration. Most organisms rely on photosynthesis, either directly or indirectly, for nourishment.
Heterotrophic hetero- , -trophic organisms, such as animals, most bacteria , and fungi , are not capable of photosynthesis or of producing biological compounds from inorganic sources. As such, they must consume photosynthetic organisms and other autotrophs auto- , -trophs in order to obtain these substances. Examples of photosynthetic organisms include:. Photosynthesis in plants occurs in specialized organelles called chloroplasts.
Chloroplasts are found in plant leaves and contain the pigment chlorophyll. This green pigment absorbs light energy needed for photosynthesis to occur. Chloroplasts contain an internal membrane system consisting of structures called thylakoids that serve as the sites of conversion of light energy to chemical energy. Carbon dioxide is converted to carbohydrates in a process known as carbon fixation or the Calvin cycle. The carbohydrates can be stored in the form of starch, used during respiration, or used in the production of cellulose.
Oxygen that is produced in the process is released into the atmosphere through pores in the plant leaves known as stomata. Plants play an important role in the cycle of nutrients , specifically carbon and oxygen. Aquatic plants and land plants flowering plants , mosses, and ferns help to regulate atmospheric carbon by removing carbon dioxide from the air.
Plants are also important for the production of oxygen, which is released into the air as a valuable by-product of photosynthesis. Algae are eukaryotic organisms that have characteristics of both plants and animals. Like animals, algae are capable of feeding on organic material in their environment. Some algae also contain organelles and structures found in animals cells, such as flagella and centrioles.
Like plants, algae contain photosynthetic organelles called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll, a green pigment which absorbs light energy for photosynthesis.
Algae also contain other photosynthetic pigments such as carotenoids and phycobilins. The light-dependent reactions Opens a modal. The light-dependent reactions Get 3 of 4 questions to level up! The Calvin cycle. Photosynthesis: Calvin cycle Opens a modal. The Calvin cycle Opens a modal. The Calvin cycle Get 3 of 4 questions to level up!
Photorespiration Opens a modal. C4 photosynthesis Opens a modal. CAM plants Opens a modal. Photorespiration Get 3 of 4 questions to level up! The energy used to hold these molecules together is released when an organism breaks down food. Cells then use this energy to perform work, such as cellular respiration. The energy that is harnessed from photosynthesis enters the ecosystems of our planet continuously and is transferred from one organism to another.
Therefore, directly or indirectly, the process of photosynthesis provides most of the energy required by living things on earth. Photosynthesis also results in the release of oxygen into the atmosphere. In short, to eat and breathe, humans depend almost entirely on the organisms that carry out photosynthesis.
Learn more about photosynthesis. Some organisms can carry out photosynthesis, whereas others cannot. An autotroph is an organism that can produce its own food. Oceanic algae contribute enormous quantities of food and oxygen to global food chains.
Plants are also photoautotrophs, a type of autotroph that uses sunlight and carbon from carbon dioxide to synthesize chemical energy in the form of carbohydrates. All organisms carrying out photosynthesis require sunlight. Algae can grow over enormous areas in water, at times completely covering the surface. The energy stored in carbohydrate molecules from photosynthesis passes through the food chain.
The predator that eats these deer is getting energy that originated in the photosynthetic vegetation that the deer consumed. Fish and Wildlife Service. Heterotrophs are organisms incapable of photosynthesis that must therefore obtain energy and carbon from food by consuming other organisms.
Even if the food organism is another animal, this food traces its origins back to autotrophs and the process of photosynthesis. Humans are heterotrophs, as are all animals. Heterotrophs depend on autotrophs, either directly or indirectly. Deer and wolves are heterotrophs. A deer obtains energy by eating plants. A wolf eating a deer obtains energy that originally came from the plants eaten by that deer.
Using this reasoning, all food eaten by humans also links back to autotrophs that carry out photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the origin of the products that comprise the main elements of the human diet.
Major grocery stores in the United States are organized into departments, such as dairy, meats, produce, bread, cereals, and so forth.
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