Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 23

LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4.

Plant Physiology The McGrawHill

and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

Plant Transport Systems 50
Transpiration 51
Absorption of Water from the Soil 51
A CLOSER LOOK 4.1 Mineral
Nutrition and the Green Clean 52
Water Movement in Plants 53
Translocation of Sugar 53
Metabolism 54
A CLOSER LOOK 4.2 Sugar and
Slavery 55
Energy 57
Redox Reactions 57
Phosphorylation 57
Enzymes 58
Photosynthesis 58
Energy from the Sun 58
Light-Absorbing Pigments 58
Overview 58
The Light Reactions 59
The Calvin Cycle 62
Variation to Carbon Fixation 63
Cellular Respiration 64
Glycolysis 65
The Krebs Cycle 65
The Electron Transport System 68
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Respiration 69
Chapter Summary 70
Review Questions 70
Further Reading 70

1. The movement of water in xylem is a
passive phenomenon dependent on the
pull of transpiration and the cohesion
of water molecules whereas the
translocation of sugars in the phloem
is best described by the Pressure Flow
2. Plants are dynamic metabolic systems C H A P T E R
with hundreds of biochemical reactions
occurring each second, which enable

plants to live, grow, and respond to
their environment.
3. Life on Earth is dependent on the
flow of energy from the sun, and
photosynthesis is the process during
which plants convert carbon dioxide
and water into sugars using this solar
energy with oxygen as a by-product.
4. In cellular respiration, the chemical-
bond energy in sugars is converted into
an energy-rich compound, ATP, which
can then be used for other metabolic
Plant Physiology

Products of photosynthesis are translocated in the phloem and stored

in various plant organs. These pumpkins are excellent examples
of how energy from the sun is transformed into food by these processes. 49
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

50 UNIT II Introduction to Plant Life: Botanical Principles

lthough plants lack mobility and appear static to the in the xylem will be described first. Tracheids and vessel
casual observer, they are nonetheless active organ- elements, which consist of only cell walls after the cyto-
isms with many dynamic processes occurring within plasm degenerates, are the actual conducting components in
each part of the plant. Materials are transported through xylem.
specialized conducting systems; energy is harnessed from The source of water for land plants is the soil. Even
the sun; storage products are manufactured; stored foods are when the soil appears dry, there is often abundant soil mois-
broken down to yield chemical energy; and a multitude of ture below the surface. Roots of plants have ready access to
products are synthesized. Put simply, plants are bustling with this soil water; leaves, however, are far removed from this
activity. This chapter will consider some of the major trans- water source and are normally surrounded by the relatively
port and metabolic pathways in higher plants. drier air. The basic challenge is moving water from the soil
up to the leaves across tremendous distances, sometimes up
to 100 meters (300 feet). This challenge is, in fact, met when
PLANT TRANSPORT SYSTEMS water moves through the xylem. There are three components
As described in Chapter 3, there are two conducting, or to this movement: transpiration from the leaves, the uptake
vascular, tissues in higher plants, the xylem and the phloem, of water from the soil, and the conduction in the xylem
each with component cell types. Water and mineral transport (fig. 4.1).




The tension created
by transpiration pulls
water up into leaves.


Water is cohesive and

forms a continuous
column in xylem.




Water is absorbed
by the roots.

(a) Xylem transport (b)

Figure 4.1 Transpiration-Cohesion Theory of xylem transport. (a) As transpiration occurs in the leaf, it creates a cohesive pull on the
whole water column downward to the roots, where water is absorbed from the soil. (b) Vessel elements join to form a long vessel that
may reach from the roots to the stem tip.
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 4 Plant Physiology 51

Transpiration walls. When guard cells become turgid they can only expand
Transpiration, the loss of water vapor from leaves, is the outward owing to the radial orientation of cellulose fibrils;
force behind the movement of water in xylem. This evapora- this outward expansion of the guard cells opens the stomata.
tive water loss occurs mainly through the stomata (90%) and Stomata are generally open during daylight and closed at
to a lesser extent through the cuticle (10%). When stomata night. As long as the stomata are open, both transpiration and
are open, gas exchange occurs freely between the leaf and the photosynthesis occur, but when water loss exceeds uptake,
atmosphere. Water vapor and oxygen (from photosynthesis) the guard cells lose turgor and close the stomata (fig. 4.2b).
diffuse out of the leaf while carbon dioxide diffuses into the (See A Closer Look 6.1The Influence of Hormones on
leaf (fig. 4.2a). The amount of water vapor that is transpired Plant Reproductive Cycles.) On hot, dry, windy days the
is astounding, with estimates of 2 liters (0.5 gallons) of water high rate of transpiration frequently causes the stomata to
per day for a single corn plant, 5 liters (1.3 gallons) for a sun- close early, resulting in a near shutdown of photosynthesis
flower, 200 liters (52 gallons) for a large maple tree, and 450 as well as transpiration. A fine balance must be struck in this
liters (117 gallons) for a date palm. Imagine the quantities of photosynthesis-transpiration dilemma to allow enough CO2
water lost each day from the acres of corn and wheat planted for photosynthesis while at the same time preventing exces-
in the farm belt of the United States! Clearly, transpiration by sive water loss. Some plants have evolved an alternate path-
plants is a major force in the global cycling of water. way for CO2 uptake at night when rates of transpiration are
It is the action of the guard cells that regulates the rate lower (see CAM Pathway later in this chapter). Other plants
of water lost through transpiration and, at the same time, have morphological or anatomical adaptations that reduce
regulates the rate of photosynthesis by controlling the CO2 rates of transpiration while keeping the stomata open. These
uptake. Each stoma is surrounded by a pair of guard cells, physiological and anatomical adaptations are most common
which have unevenly thickened walls. The walls of the in xerophytes, plants occurring in arid environments.
guard cells that border the stoma are thicker than the outer The basis of transpiration is the diffusion of water mol-
ecules from an area of high concentration within the leaf to
an area of lower concentration in the atmosphere. Unless the
atmospheric relative humidity is 100%, the air is relatively
Guard cells
dry compared with the interior of a leaf, where the intercellu-
lar spaces are saturated with water vapor. As long as stomata
Chloroplast are open, a continuous stream of water vapor transpires from
the leaf, creating a pull on the water column that extends from
the leaf through the plant to the soil.

Concept Quiz
Xerophytes are plants that are able to grow in arid environments.
Explain how the following adaptations of xerophytes would
(a) Open Stoma
reduce transpiration rates and enhance these plants survival in
arid regions:
Thick cuticle
Sunken stomata (stomata are found in cavities)
Leaf surface covered with dense mat of trichomes (hairs)
(Hint: See Chapter 3.)

Absorption of Water from the Soil

Water and dissolved minerals enter a plant through the root
(b) Closed Stoma hairs and can follow two paths, via either the symplast or the
apoplast. Water molecules can diffuse through the plasma
Figure 4.2 Transpiration is the basic driving force behind membrane into the cytoplasm of a root hair cell and continue
water movement in the xylem. (a) When stomata are open, both
transpiration and photosynthesis occur as H2O molecules diffuse on this intracellular movement through the cytoplasm of cells
out of the leaves and CO2 molecules diffuse in. (b) When guard in the cortex. Recall that molecules will move from an area
cells are turgid, stoma are open, and when guard cells are flaccid, of high concentration to one of low concentration. The water
stoma are closed. molecules move from the dilute soil solution and enter the
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008


Mineral Nutrition and the Green Clean

Research has shown that certain minerals are required stunted, with leaves turning a characteristic dark green, often
by plants for normal growth and development. These are with the accumulation of anthocyanin. Typically, older leaves
included in the essential elements listed in Table 1.3. The are affected first as the phosphorus is mobilized to young
soil is the source of these minerals, which are absorbed by growing tissue. Iron deficiency is characterized by chlorosis
the plant with the soil water. Even nitrogen, which is a gas in between veins in young leaves.
its elemental state, is normally absorbed from the soil in the Much of the research on nutrient deficiencies is based
form of nitrate ions (NO3). Some soils are notoriously defi- on growing plants hydroponically, using soil-less nutrient
cient in micronutrients and are therefore unable to support solutions. This technique allows researchers to create solu-
most plant life. Serpentine soils, for example, are deficient in tions that selectively omit certain nutrients and then observe
calcium, and only plants able to tolerate the low levels of this the resulting effects on the plants (box fig. 4.1). Hydroponics
mineral can survive. In modern agriculture, mineral depletion has applications beyond basic research since it facilitates the
of soils is a major concern, since harvesting crops interrupts growing of greenhouse vegetables during winter. Aeroponics,
the natural recycling of nutrients back to the soil. a technique in which plants are suspended and the roots
Mineral deficiencies can often be detected by specific misted with a nutrient solution, is another method for grow-
symptoms such as chlorosis (loss of chlorophyll resulting in ing plants in soil-less culture.
yellow or white leaf tissue), necrosis (isolated dead patches), While mineral deficiencies can limit the growth of plants,
anthocyanin formation (development of deep red pigmenta- an overabundance of certain minerals can be toxic and can
tion of leaves or stem), stunted growth, and development also limit growth. Saline soils, which have high concentrations
of woody tissue in an herbaceous plant. Soils are most of sodium chloride and other salts, also limit plant growth, and
commonly deficient in nitrogen and phosphorus. Nitrogen- research continues to focus on developing salt-tolerant vari-
deficient plants exhibit many of the symptoms just described. eties of agricultural crops. Research has focused on the toxic
Leaves develop chlorosis; stems are short and slender; and effects of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and
anthocyanin discoloration occurs on stems, petioles, and aluminum; however, even copper and zinc, which are essential
lower leaf surfaces. Phosphorus-deficient plants are often elements, can become toxic in high concentrations. Although

more concentrated cytoplasm of the root cells. The cytoplasm Endodermis and
of all cells is interconnected through plasmodesmata and is Casparian strip Cortex Epidermis
referred to as the symplast. Thus, this pathway follows the
symplast from a root hair cell into the stele (fig. 4.3).
A second path is the diffusion of water through the cell
walls and intercellular spaces from the root hair through Apoplastic
the cortex (fig. 4.3). The intercellular spaces and the spaces pathway
between the cellulose fibrils in the cell walls constitute the Xylem
apoplast of a plant; thus, the water molecules move unim-
peded through the apoplast until they reach the endodermis.
The innermost layer of the cortex consists of a specialized
cylinder of cells known as the endodermis. The presence of Symplastic
a Casparian strip on the walls of the endodermal cells regu-
lates the movement of water and minerals into the stele. The
Casparian strip is a layer of suberin (and in some instances Root hair
lignin as well) on the radial and transverse walls (top, bottom,
and sides) that prevents the apoplastic movement of water into Figure 4.3 Water and minerals can follow one of two
the stele (see Chapter 3, fig. 3.8c). The movement of water pathways across the cortex into the vascular cylinder: (a) the
through the selectively permeable plasma membrane is there- apoplastic pathway, in which water diffuses through the cell walls
and intercellular spaces or (b) the symplastic pathway, in which
fore directed to the tangential walls of the endodermis and into water diffuses into the cytoplasm of a root hair cell and continues
the cytoplasm of these cells and, thus, the symplast. By forc- moving through the cytoplasm from one cell to the next. In
ing the water and minerals through the symplastic pathway, both pathways, water must move through the symplast of the
some control over the uptake of minerals is exerted. Some endodermal cells.

LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

family, Fabaceae or legume family, and Poaceae or grass family

are top hyperaccumulators. Many are found in tropical and
subtropical areas of the world where accumulation of high
concentrations of metals may afford some protection against
plant-eating insects and microbial pathogens.
Only recently have investigators considered using these
plants to clean up soil and waste sites that have been
contaminated by toxic levels of heavy metalsan environ-
mentally friendly approach known as phytoremediation.
A green clean scenario begins with the planting of hyperac-
cumulating species in the target area, such as an abandoned
mine or an irrigation pond contaminated by runoff. Toxic
minerals would first be absorbed by roots but later trans-
located to the stem and leaves. A harvest of the shoots
would remove the toxic compounds off site to be ashed or
Box Figure 4.1 The effects of mineral deficiencies are shown composted to recover the metal for industrial uses. After
in these sunflower plants grown in hydroponic culture. The plants several years of cultivation and harvest, the site would be
grown in complete nutrient solution are shown on the right; those restored at a cost much lower than the price of excavation
on the left are deficient in calcium.
and reburial, the standard practice for remediation of con-
taminated soils.
most plants cannot survive in these soils, certain plants have In field trials, alpine pennycress (Thlaspi caerulescens)
the ability to tolerate high levels of these minerals. removed zinc and cadmium from soils near the site of
Scientists have known for some time that certain plants, a zinc smelter. Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) native to
called hyperaccumulators, can concentrate minerals at Pakistan and India has been effective in reducing the level of
levels 100-fold or greater than normal. Certain minerals are selenium salts by 50% in contaminated soils. Much interest
more likely to be hyperaccumulated than others. A survey has focused on Indian mustard since it has also been shown
of known hyperaccumulators identified that 75% of them to concentrate lead, chromium, cadmium, nickel, zinc, and
amassed nickel. Cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese, lead, and copper in the laboratory. The aquatic weed parrot feather
cadmium are other minerals of choice. (Myriophyllum aquaticum) shows promise in restoring con-
Hyperaccumulators run the gamut of the plant world. taminated waterways. Research is ongoing as the search
They may be herbs, shrubs, or trees. Many members of the continues for the plants best suited to purify polluted sites
Brassicaceae or mustard family, Euphorbiaceae or spurge quickly and cheaply.

minerals are prevented from entering the stele while others are them as well, resulting in the bulk flow of water within the
selectively absorbed by active transport. (See A Closer Look plant. Bulk flow is usually defined as the movement of a fluid
4.1Mineral Nutrition and the Green Clean.) Once inside the because of pressure differences at two locations. In the xylem,
cytoplasm of the endodermal cells, water moves symplasti- the pull of transpiration is the force causing the bulk flow. As
cally into the living cells of the pericycle, the outermost layer transpiration occurs in the leaf, it creates a cohesive pull on
of the stele. The water moves into the conducting cells of the the whole water column downward from the leaf through the
xylem, drawn by the pull of transpiration. xylem to the root, where water uptake occurs to replace the
water lost through transpiration (fig. 4.1). This mechanism of
Water Movement in Plants water movement in plants is known as the Transpiration-
Cohesion Theory and has been used to explain rates of
Once water is in the xylem of the stele, its movement upward water movement as high as 44 meters (145 feet) per hour in
in the plant is driven by the pull of transpiration as well as
angiosperm trees.
certain properties of the water molecule itself, cohesion and
adhesion. Recall from Chapter 1 that the polarity of water
molecules creates hydrogen bonds between adjacent mole- Translocation of Sugar
cules. These hydrogen bonds may form between water mole- Organic materials are translocated by the sieve tube members
cules themselves (cohesion) or between water molecules and of the phloem. In contrast to the xylem, where the conduct-
the molecules in the walls of vessel elements and tracheids ing elements function when the cells are dead, the sieve
(adhesion). The presence of these water molecules adhering tube members of the phloem are living but highly special-
to the cell walls provides a continuous source of water that ized cells (see Chapter 3). While water movement in the
can evaporate into the intercellular spaces of the leaf and xylem is upward from the soil, phloem translocation moves
transpire through the stomata. The cohesive force is so strong in the direction from source (supply area) to sink (area of
that any force or pull on one water molecule acts on all of metabolism or storage). In late winter, the source may be
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

54 UNIT II Introduction to Plant Life: Botanical Principles

an underground storage organ translocating sugars to apical cells and then move symplastically into sieve tube members
meristems (the sink) in the branches of a tree. In summer, through plasmodesmata. This highly concentrated solution in
the source may be photosynthetic leaves sending sugars for the sieve tube members causes water to enter by osmosis from
storage to sinks such as roots or developing fruits (fig. 4.4). nearby xylem elements, resulting in a buildup of pressure.
In most plants, the primary material translocated in phloem When pressure starts to build in these cells, the solute-rich
is sucrose in a watery solution that also may include small phloem sap is pushed through the pores in the sieve plate
amounts of amino acids, minerals, and other organic com- into the adjacent sieve tube member and so on down to the
pounds. Translocation in the phloem is quite rapid and has sink. This movement of material en masse is known as mass
been timed at speeds averaging 1 meter (3.3 feet) per hour. flow. At the sink, companion cells function in active phloem
The amount of material translocated is also quite impres- unloading, which reduces the concentration of sugars and
sive. In a growing pumpkin, which reaches a size of 5.5 kg allows water to diffuse out of these cells. Sugars unloaded
(11 lbs) in 33 days, approximately 8 g (0.3 oz) of solution are at the sink are taken up by nearby cells and either stored as
translocated each hour. Each fall at state and county fairs all starch or metabolized. (See A Closer Look 4.2Sugar and
across the United States, prize-winning pumpkins routinely Slavery.) The loading and unloading of sugars by active
weigh well over 400 kg (880 lb). The 2003 world record transport are energy-requiring steps.
holder was a 630 kg (1,385 lb) pumpkin grown by Steven
Deletas from Oregon. An even larger pumpkin (663 kg, or
1,458 lb) was grown in New Hampshire but was disqualified
because it was damaged. In the United States in 2003, there METABOLISM
were 63 pumpkins that weighed over 454 kg (1,000 lb). Metabolism is the sum total of all chemical reactions occur-
The hypothesis currently accepted to explain transloca- ring in living organisms. Metabolic reactions that synthesize
tion in the phloem is the Pressure Flow (or Mass Flow) compounds are referred to as anabolic reactions and are
Hypothesis. This is a modified version of a hypothesis generally endergonic, requiring an input of energy. In con-
first proposed by Ernst Mnch in 1926. According to this trast, catabolic reactions, which break down compounds, are
hypothesis, there is a bulk flow of solutes from source to usually exergonic reactions, which release energy. Many of
sink (fig. 4.4). At the source, phloem loading takes place as these reactions also involve the conversion of energy from
sugar molecules are first actively transported into companion one form to another.

Xylem Sieve tube



cell Flow of solution

Sink Concentrated Dilute

sugar sugar
solution 1 2 solution
H2O permeable H2O

(a) (b)

Figure 4.4 Translocation of sugar. (a) Products of photosynthesis move from source to sink. At the source, sugar molecules are loaded
into the phloem. As the sugar concentration increases, water moves in from adjacent xylem, pressure builds up, and the sugar solution
is forced through the plant to the sink, where sugar is unloaded from the phloem. (b) A physical model can be used to demonstrate the
Pressure Flow Hypothesis. The concentrated sugar solution on the left is comparable to the source, and the dilute solution on the right
is comparable to the sink. In bulb 1, water moves into the concentrated sugar solution from the surroundings, pressure builds up, and the
sugar solution flows through the tube to bulb 2, where the sugars begin to accumulate, and the pressure causes the water to move out.
Recall the discussion of osmosis and diffusion in Chapter 2.
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008


Sugar and Slavery

Products of photosynthesis are typically transported to The sugar production in the Caribbean came at a time
growing fruits, storage organs, and other sinks throughout when supplies of honey in Europe were decreasing. The
the plant. After being unloaded from the phloem, sugars are Catholic monasteries were the traditional source of honey.
usually converted to starch or other storage carbohydrates. Beehives were kept, principally, to produce beeswax
Although the disaccharide sucrose is the material translo- for church candles. During the Protestant Reformation,
cated in the phloem of most plants, very few species store Catholic monasteries were suppressed, and the sources of
significant amounts of this sugar. Only two plants, sugarcane honey fell short of demand. Also, in the late seventeenth
and sugar beet, are commercially important sources of century, the introduction and growing popularity of coffee,
sucrose, commonly known as table sugar. Sugarcane is the tea, and cocoa in Europe accelerated the demand for sugar,
more important crop and, in terms of sheer tonnage, leads since Europeans generally disliked the naturally bitter taste
the global crop production list (see fig. 12.1). of these beverages. Sugar became the most important com-
Sugarcane is native to the islands of the South Pacific and modity traded in the world, and eventually England became
has been grown in India since antiquity. Small amounts of the dominant force in this enterprise. The Triangular Trade
sugarcane reached the ancient civilizations in the Near East was the source of many fortunes. The first leg of the tri-
and Mediterranean countries through Arab trading routes, angle was from England to West Africa, where trinkets,
but it was not grown in those regions until the seventh cen- cloth, firearms, salt, and other commodities were bartered
tury. Even after cultivation was established, honey remained for slaves. The second leg brought slaves to the Caribbean
the principal sweetener in Europe until the fifteenth century. Islands, where they were sold. The final leg of the journey
During the Middle Ages, sugar was an expensive luxury that carried rum, molasses, and sugar back to England (box
found its greatest use in medicinal compounds to disguise the fig. 4.2a). A second triangle became important in the mid-
bitter taste of many herbal remedies. Early in the fifteenth eighteenth century, linking the West Indies, New England,
century, sugar plantations were established on islands in the and West Africa. The use of slaves on sugar plantations
eastern Atlantic: on the Canary Islands by Spain as well as on continued until the early nineteenth century, when the
Madeira and the Azores by Portugal. slave trade was abolished. It has been estimated that during
Columbus introduced sugarcane to the Caribbean islands this period 10 million to 20 million African slaves had been
on his second voyage in 1493. By 1509, sugarcane was har- brought to the New World. Approximately 40% of the
vested in Santo Domingo and Hispaniola and soon spread to slaves brought to the New World went to the Caribbean
other islands. In fact, many Caribbean islands were eventu-
ally denuded of native forests and planted with sugarcane.
The Portuguese saw the opportunities in South America and
started sugar plantations in Brazil in 1521. Although late to
enter the West Indies, the British established colonies in the
early seventeenth century, and by the 1640s, sugar planta- Ocean Great
tions were thriving on Barbados. The first sugarcane grown Britain
ga r
in the continental United States was in the French colony of m , su
Louisiana in 1753. Ru Firearms,
America cloth,
The growing of sugarcane was responsible for the estab- salt,
lishment of slavery in the Americas, and early in the sixteenth etc.
century, sugar and the slave trade became interdependent. Indies West
Decimation of the native populations led to the need for Caribbean Sea Africa
new workers on the sugar plantations. The first suggestion
to use African slaves was made in 1517. Within a short time,
the importation of slaves was a reality in both the Spanish
and Portuguese colonies, with the greatest number of slaves America
imported into Brazil. The introduction of African slaves to
these colonies was an outgrowth of the slave trade in Spain
and Portugal that had begun in the 1440s. Initially, Spain
exported the slaves, but by 1530 slaves were sent directly
from Africa to the Caribbean. Box Figure 4.2a (a) The Triangular Trade.

LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

Box Figure 4.2b (b) Sugarcane harvest near Luxor, Egypt.

Islands. During the seventeenth century, the British sugar

plantations in these islands created one of the harshest sys-
tems of slavery in history. It was physically crueler and more
demanding than slave conditions on the North American
continent. Although the life of a slave was never easy, it was
especially arduous in the sugar plantations. Few survived the
hard labor; consequently, the slave population had to be
constantly replenished.
Sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum, is a perennial member Box Figure 4.2c (c) USDA geneticist checks growth and
of the grass family, Poaceae (box fig. 4.2b). Several species of disease resistance of a sugar beet variety.
Saccharum are known to exist in the tropics, and it is believed
that S. officinarum originated as a hybrid of several species.
The species owes its importance to the sucrose stored in
the cells of the stem. Sugarcane, which uses the C4 Pathway pure sucrose) is further refined to free it from any additional
for photosynthesis, is considered one of the most efficient impurities.
converters of solar energy into chemical energy. Canes are Sugar beet, Beta vulgaris, formerly a member of the goose-
often 5 to 6 meters (15 to 20 feet) tall, with individual stalks foot family, Chenopodiaceae, now in the Amaranthaceae,
up to 10 cm (4 in) in diameter. Plants are grown from stem is not closely related to sugarcane (box fig. 4.2c). It is actu-
cuttings, with each segment containing three or four nodes ally the same species as red beets, which are native to the
and each node at least one bud. Segments are laid horizon- Mediterranean region and have been consumed since the
tally, bud upward, in shallow trenches. Roots soon develop time of the ancient Romans. In the mid-eighteenth century, a
from the node. Generally 1218 months are needed before German chemist, Andreas Marggraf, discovered that the roots
the canes can be harvested. On fertile land, subsequent crops contained sugar that was chemically identical to that from
develop from the rhizome for 2 or 3 years before replant- cane. The rise of the sugar beet industry can be tied to the
ing is necessary. Sugarcane thrives in moist lowland tropics Emperor Napoleon I. When a British naval blockade cut off
and subtropics and today provides about 60% of the worlds the sugar imports to France, Napoleon realized the value of a
sugar supply. domestic source of sugar and encouraged scientific research
Canes generally contain 12% to 15% sucrose. After har- on the sugar beet. After 1815, sugarcane imports were
vesting, canes are crushed by heavy steel rollers to extract restored, halting the developing sugar beet industry. By the
the sugary juice. The fibrous residue (bagasse) can be used early twentieth century, the sugar beet industry was revived
to make fiberboard, paper, and other products, or used as in both Europe and North America, and today sugar beets
compost. Successive boilings concentrate the sucrose; impu- provide close to 40% of the worlds supply of table sugar.
rities are usually precipitated by adding lime water (calcium Sugar beet is a biennial plant, but it is harvested at the
oxide solution) and are removed by filtering. The solution end of the first year, when the sucrose content is greatest.
is then evaporated to form a syrup from which the sugar Selective breeding gradually raised the percentage of sugar
is crystallized. Centrifuges separate the thick brown liquid in the root from 2% to approximately 20%. After harvesting,
portion from the crystals. The liquid portion is molasses, roots are shredded, steeped in hot water, and then pressed
which is used in foods or is fermented to make rum, ethyl to extract the sucrose. Further processing is similar to sugar-
alcohol, or vinegar. The crystallized sugar (about 96%97% cane processing and produces an identical final product.

LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 4 Plant Physiology 57

Energy Potential energy

All life processes are driven by energy, and consequently, a
cell or an organism deprived of an energy source will soon
die. Energy is defined by physicists as the ability to do work
and is governed by certain physical principles such as the
Laws of Thermodynamics.
The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy
can neither be created nor destroyed, but it can be con-
verted from one form to another.
Among the forms of energy are radiant (light), thermal
(heat), chemical, mechanical (motion), and electrical. One
focus of this chapter is photosynthesis, the process that con-
verts radiant energy from the sun into the chemical energy of
a sugar molecule. (a)
The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that in
any transfer of energy there is always a loss of useful
energy to the system, usually in the form of heat.
When gasoline is burned as fuel to drive an automobile
engine, chemical energy is converted into mechanical energy, Kinetic energy
but the conversion is not very efficient. Some of the energy is
lost as heat to the surroundings.
All forms of energy can exist as either potential energy
or kinetic energy. Potential energy is stored energy that has
the capacity to do work; kinetic energy actually is doing work
or is energy in action. For example, a boulder at the top of a
hill has a tremendous amount of potential energy. If it rolls
down the hillside, the potential energy is changed into kinetic
energy, an exergonic process (fig. 4.5). To push it back up to
the top of the hill would be an endergonic process requiring (b)
considerable input of energy. Transformations from potential
Figure 4.5 Potential and kinetic energy. (a) The boulder at the
to kinetic and vice versa occur constantly in biological sys- top of a hill has a tremendous amount of potential energy. (b) If
tems and are part of the underlying principles of both photo- the boulder rolls down the hill, the potential energy is converted
synthesis and respiration. to kinetic energy. To push the boulder back up to the top would
require a considerable input of energy.
Redox Reactions
Many energy transformations in cells involve the transfer of
electrons or hydrogen atoms. When a molecule gains an elec- dinucleotide) also can exist as NADP/NADPH H and
tron or a hydrogen atom, the molecule is said to be reduced, FAD/FADH2, respectively. NAD and FAD are common
and the molecule that gives up the electron is said to be oxi- electron carriers in respiration; NADP serves the same func-
dized. A molecule that has been reduced has gained energy; tion in photosynthesis.
likewise the oxidized molecule has lost energy. Oxidation
and reduction reactions are usually coupled (sometimes called Phosphorylation
redox reactions); as one molecule is oxidized, the other is
Other energy transformations involve the transfer of a phos-
simultaneously reduced.
phate group. When a phosphate group is added to a molecule,
AH2  B A  BH2 the resulting product is said to be phosphorylated and has a
(A-reduced) (B-oxidized) (A-oxidized) (B-reduced) higher energy level than the original molecule. These phos-
phorylated compounds may also lose the high-energy phos-
In many oxidation-reduction reactions, an intermediate
phate group and thereby release energy. The energy currency
is used to transport electrons from one reactant to another.
of cells, ATP (adenosine triphosphate), is constantly recycled
One such electron intermediate is NAD (nicotinamide
in this way. When a phosphate group is removed from ATP,
adenine dinucleotide), which can exist in both oxidized
ADP (adenosine diphosphate) is formed, and energy is
and reduced states (NAD oxidized form and NADH
released in this exergonic reaction.
H reduced form). Similarly, NADP (nicotinamide
adenine dinucleotide phosphate) and FAD (flavin adenine ATP ADP  PO4  energy
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

58 UNIT II Introduction to Plant Life: Botanical Principles

Recreating ATP requires the addition of a phosphate group 380 nm (violet) to 760 nm (red) and are the wavelengths
to ADP (an endergonic reaction) with the appropriate input most important to living organisms (fig. 4.6). In fact, the
of energy. wavelengths within this range are the ones absorbed by the
chlorophylls and other photosynthetic pigments in green
ADP  PO4  energy ATP
plants and algae.

Enzymes Light-Absorbing Pigments

Proteins that act as catalysts for chemical reactions in living
When light strikes an object, the light can pass through the
organisms are known as enzymes. Catalysts speed up the
object (be transmitted), be reflected from the surface, or be
rate of a chemical reaction without being used up or changed
absorbed. For light to be absorbed, pigments must be present.
during the reaction. The majority of chemical reactions in
Pigments absorb light selectively, with different pigments
living organisms require enzymes in order to occur at bio-
absorbing different wavelengths and reflecting others. Each
logical temperatures. Enzymes are highly specific for certain
pigment has a characteristic absorption spectrum, which
reactants; the compound acted upon by the enzyme is known
depicts the absorption at each wavelength. If all visible wave-
as the substrate. The names of enzymes most commonly end
lengths are absorbed, the object appears black; however, if all
in the suffix -ase, which is sometimes appended to the name
wavelengths are reflected, the object appears white. Green
of the substrate or the type of reaction. Some enzymes func-
leaves appear green because these wavelengths are reflected.
tion properly only in the presence of cofactors or coenzymes.
In higher plants, the major organ of photosynthesis is
Cofactors are inorganic, often metallic, ions such as Mg
the leaf, and the green chloroplasts within the mesophyll are
and Mn, while organic molecules such as NAD, NADP, the actual sites of this process. The major photosynthetic
and some vitamins are coenzymes. Both cofactors and coen- pigments are the green chlorophylls, which are located on
zymes are loosely associated with enzymes; however, pros-
the thylakoid membranes of the chloroplasts (fig. 4.7).
thetic groups are nonprotein molecules that are attached to Thylakoids can be found in stacks, known as grana, as well
some enzymes and are necessary for enzyme action. as individually in the stroma, the enzyme-rich ground sub-
stance of the chloroplast. Chloroplasts may have 50 to 80
grana, each with about 10 to 30 thylakoids. The chlorophylls
PHOTOSYNTHESIS can be located on the stroma thylakoids as well as in the
Photosynthesis is the process that transforms the vast energy grana, and it is the abundance of these pigments that makes
of the sun into chemical energy and is the basis for most food leaves appear green.
chains on Earth. The overwhelming majority of life depends In green plants there are two forms of chlorophyll, a and
on the photosynthetic ability of green plants and algae, and b, which differ slightly in chemical makeup. Most chloroplasts
without these producers, life as is known today could not have three times more chlorophyll a than b. The absorption
survive. spectra of the chlorophylls show peak absorbances in the red
and blue-violet regions, with much of the yellow and green
Energy from the Sun light reflected (fig. 4.6). Other forms of chlorophyll and other
photosynthetic pigments occur in the algae (Chapter 22).
The sun is basically a thermonuclear reactor producing tre-
In addition to chlorophylls, chloroplasts also contain
mendous quantities of electromagnetic radiation, which
carotenoids. These include the orange carotenes and yel-
bathes Earth. Visible light is only a small portion of the elec-
low xanthophylls, which absorb light in the violet, blue, and
tromagnetic spectrum, which includes radio waves, micro-
bluegreen regions of the spectrum. Carotenoids are called
waves, infrared radiation, ultraviolet radiation, X rays, and
accessory pigments, and the light energy absorbed by these
gamma rays (fig. 4.6). This radiant energy, or light, has
pigments is transferred to chlorophyll for photosynthesis.
a dual nature consisting of both particles and waves. The
Although present in all leaves, carotenoids are normally
particles are known as photons and have a fixed quantity of
masked by the chlorophylls. Recall that these carotenoids
energy. It is believed that the photons travel in waves and
become apparent in autumn in temperate latitudes, when
thus display characteristic wavelengths. Wavelengths vary
chlorophyll degrades.
from radio waves, which may be over 1 kilometer long to
gamma rays, which are a fraction of a nanometer (nm) long.
The energy content also varies and is inversely proportional Overview
to the wavelengththat is, the longer the wavelength, the Photosynthesis consists of two major phases, the light reac-
lower the energy. tions and the Calvin Cycle. The light reactions constitute
Approximately 40% of the radiant energy reaching Earth the photochemical phase of photosynthesis, during which
is in the form of visible light. If visible light passes through radiant energy is converted into chemical energy. During
a prism, the component colors become apparent; these range the light reactions, water molecules are split, releasing oxy-
from red at one end of the visible band to blue-violet at gen and providing electrons for the reduction of NADP to
the other end. The wavelengths of visible light range from NADPH  H. The light reactions also provide the energy
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 4 Plant Physiology 59

High energy Low energy

Decreasing wavelength

t ligh



le lig

ma r

red li
X ray





400 nm 500 nm 600 nm 700 nm

Violet Blue Green Yellow Orange Red


Chlorophyll b Absorbed
Chlorophyll a
and reflected

(b) (c)

Figure 4.6 Energy from the sun drives the process of photosynthesis. (a) Visible light is only a small portion of the electromagnetic
spectrum. (b) If visible light is passed through a prism, the component colors are apparent. The chlorophyll pigments in leaves absorb the
blue-violet and orange-red portions of the spectrum. (c) Leaves reflect the green and yellow portions of the spectrum.

for the synthesis of ATP. The Calvin Cycle constitutes the is known as P700, which indicates the wavelength of maximum
biochemical phase and involves the fixation and reduction of light absorption in the red region of the spectrum; the reaction
CO2 to form sugars using the ATP and NADPH produced in center for Photosystem II is P680, again indicating the peak
the light reactions (fig. 4.8). absorbance. Associated with the photosystems are various
enzymes and coenzymes that function as electron carriers and
are components of the thylakoid membranes.
The Light Reactions When a photon of light strikes a pigment molecule in
The light reactions are composed of two cooperating photo- the light-harvesting antennae of Photosystem I, the energy
systems, Photosystems I and II, and take place on the thy- is funneled to P700 (fig. 4.10). When P700 absorbs this energy,
lakoid membranes within the chloroplasts. Each photosystem an electron is excited and ejected, leaving P700 in an oxidized
is a complex of several hundred chlorophyll and carotenoid state. The ejected electron is picked up by a primary elec-
molecules (known as light-harvesting antennae) and associ- tron acceptor, which then passes the electrons on to ferre-
ated membrane proteins. Countless units of these photosys- doxin (Fd), another electron intermediate, and eventually to
tems are arrayed on the thylakoid membranes throughout the NADP, reducing it to NADPH  H, one of the products of
chloroplast. When light strikes a pigment molecule in either the light reactions.
photosystem, the energy is funneled into a reaction center, Another photon of light absorbed by a chlorophyll mol-
which consists of a chlorophyll a molecule bound to a mem- ecule in Photosystem II will transfer its energy to the reaction
brane protein (fig. 4.9). The reaction center for Photosystem I center P680 (fig. 4.10). When P680 absorbs this energy, an excited
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

60 UNIT II Introduction to Plant Life: Botanical Principles


Palisade cell




Outer membrane
Inner membrane
(b) Thylakoid


Thylakoids in grana

Figure 4.7 The major organ of photosynthesis is the leaf, and

the actual site of photosynthesis is the chloroplast. (a)(d) Leaf
cells with chloroplasts; (e)(f) internal structure of the chloroplast.
Thylakoid sacs comprise the grana, sites of the light reactions. The
stroma contains the enzymes that carry out the Calvin Cycle. (f) Stroma
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 4 Plant Physiology 61



Light Chloroplast




Light Calvin
Reaction Cycle
(on (in stroma)


O2 Sugar

Figure 4.8 Photosynthesis consists of two major phases, the light reactions and the Calvin Cycle.


Incoming Energy transfer


Pigment molecule

Figure 4.9 Photosystem. Each photosystem is composed of several hundred chlorophyll and carotenoid molecules that make up light-
harvesting antennae. When light strikes a pigment molecule, the energy is transferred and funneled into a reaction center.
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

62 UNIT II Introduction to Plant Life: Botanical Principles

Photosystem II Photosystem I

Light Light
Primary Primary
acceptor acceptor

Cytochrome Incoming NADP

Incoming e complex photons e reductase
photons e (light) e
(light) NADPH

P680 P700

H2O O2  2H
2 Reaction center Reaction center

Figure 4.10 Two cooperating photosystems work together to transfer electrons from water to NADPH. The passage of electrons
from Photosystem II to Photosystem I also drives the formation of ATP, a process known as noncyclic photophosphorylation.

electron is ejected and passed on to another primary electron (fig. 4.11). ATP, but not NADPH, may be generated during
acceptor, leaving P680 in an oxidized state. The electron lost by this process, which is known as cyclic photophosphoryla-
P680 is replaced by an electron from water, in a reaction that tion, since the flow of electrons begins and ends with P700.
is not fully understood, and catalyzed by an enzyme on the As just described, when water is split, oxygen is released.
thylakoid membrane that requires manganese atoms. In this The oxygen eventually diffuses out of the leaves into the
reaction, water molecules are split into oxygen and hydrogen; atmosphere and is Earths only constant supply of this gas.
the hydrogen is a source of both electrons and protons. The current 20% oxygen content in the atmosphere is the
The primary electron acceptor passes the electron on to result of 3.5 billion years of photosynthesis. The atmosphere
a series of thylakoid membrane-bound electron carriers that of early Earth did not contain this gas; oxygen began to accu-
include plastoquinone (Pq), cytochrome complex, plasto- mulate only after the evolution of the first photosynthetic
cyanin (Pc), and others. The electron is eventually passed organisms, the cyanobacteria. Today, the vast majority of liv-
to the oxidized P700 in Photosystem I. During the transfer ing organisms depend on oxygen for cellular respiration and,
of electrons, ATP is synthesized as protons are passed from therefore, the energy that maintains life.
the thylakoid lumen into the stroma by an ATP synthase in The overall light reactions proceed with breathtaking
the membrane. It is actually the passage of protons through speed as a constant flow of electrons moves from water to
this enzyme that drives the production of ATP; however, the NADPH, powered by the vast energy of the sun. The ATP
mechanism for this reaction is still not completely under- and NADPH that result from the light reactions are needed to
stood. This synthesis of ATP is known as photophosphory- drive the biochemical reactions in the Calvin Cycle.
lation, since the energy that drives the whole process is from
In the process just described, the two photosystems are The Calvin Cycle
joined together by the one-way transfer of electrons from The source of carbon used in the photosynthetic manufac-
Photosystem II to Photosystem I. Water is the ultimate source ture of sugars is carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This
of these electrons, continually replenishing electrons lost gas makes up just a tiny fraction, approximately 0.035%, of
from P680. The photophosphorylation that occurs during this Earths atmosphere and enters the leaf by diffusing through
process is referred to as noncyclic photophosphorylation the stomata. The reactions that involve the fixation and reduc-
since the electron transfer is one-way, with the reduction of tion of CO2 to form sugars are known as the Calvin Cycle and
NADP as the final step. are sometimes referred to as the C3 Pathway. These reactions
Photosystem I is also capable of functioning indepen- utilize the ATP and NADPH produced in the light reactions
dently, transferring electrons in a cyclic fashion. The elec- but do not involve the direct participation of light and are
trons, instead of being passed to NADP from ferredoxin, may hence sometimes referred to as light-independent reactions,
be passed to the cytochrome complex and then back to P700 or dark reactions. The Calvin Cycle takes place in the stroma
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 4 Plant Physiology 63



Incoming e Pq
photons Reaction Cytochrome
(light) center complex



Photosystem I

Figure 4.11 Photosystem I can also function in a cyclic fashion. Instead of reducing NADP, electrons are passed back to P700. This
process results in the generation of ATP by cyclic photophosphorylation.

of the chloroplasts, which contains the enzymes that catalyze from six turns of the Calvin Cycle; these are converted into
the many reactions in the cycle. This pathway was worked out one molecule of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate, which is soon
by Melvin Calvin, in association with Andrew Benson and converted to glucose. The glucose produced is never stored as
James Bassham, during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The such but is converted into starch, sucrose, or a variety of other
pathway is named in honor of Calvin, who received a Nobel products, thus completing the conversion of solar energy into
Prize for his work in 1961. chemical energy.
The following discussion will be limited to the main The complex steps of photosynthesis can be summarized
events of the Calvin Cycle, which are depicted in Figure 4.12. in the following simple equation, which considers only the
The end product of this pathway is the synthesis of a six- raw materials and end products of the process:
carbon sugar; this requires the input of carbon dioxide. Six
turns of the cycle are needed to incorporate six molecules
6CO2  12H2O  sunlight C6H12O6  6O2  6H2O
of CO2 into a single molecule of a six-carbon sugar. The
initial event is the fixation or addition of CO2 to ribulose-1,
5-bisphosphate (RUBP), a five-carbon sugar with two
phosphate groups. This carboxylation reaction is cata-
lyzed by the enzyme ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase Concept Quiz
(RUBISCO). In addition to its obvious importance to Photosynthesis consists of two major phases: the light reac-
photosynthesis, RUBISCO appears to be the most abundant tions, in which light energy is converted into chemical energy,
protein on Earth since it constitutes 12.5% to 25% of total and the Calvin Cycle, in which the fixation and reduction of
leaf protein. The product of the carboxylation is an unstable carbon dioxide to form sugars take place.
six-carbon intermediate that immediately splits into two
How is each phase dependent upon the other?
molecules of a three-carbon compound, with one phosphate
group called phosphoglyceric acid (PGA), or phospho-
glycerate. Six turns of the cycle would yield 12 molecules
of PGA.
The 12 PGA molecules are converted into 12 molecules Variation to Carbon Fixation
of glyceraldehyde phosphate, or phosphoglyceraldehyde Many plants utilize a variation of carbon fixation that consists
(PGAL). This step requires the input of 12 NADPH  H of a prefixation of CO2 before the Calvin Cycle. There are two
and 12 ATP (both generated during the light reactions), which pathways in which this prefixation occurs, the C4 Pathway
supply the energy for this reaction. Ten of the 12 glyceral- and the CAM Pathway. The C4 pathway occurs in several
dehyde phosphate molecules are used to regenerate the six thousand species of tropical and subtropical plants, including
molecules of RUBP in a complex series of interconversions the economically important crops of corn, sugarcane, and sor-
that require six more ATP and allow the cycle to continue. ghum. This pathway, occurring in mesophyll cells, consists of
Two molecules of glyceraldehyde phosphate are the net gain incorporating CO2 into organic acids, resulting in a four-carbon
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

64 UNIT II Introduction to Plant Life: Botanical Principles

6 CO2

12 PGA

12 ADP

reactions (and
6 ADP rearrangements 12 NADPH
of carbon bonds)



Glucose and other sugars

Figure 4.12 The Calvin Cycle. For every six molecules of CO2 that enter the cycle, one six-carbon sugar is produced. The ATP and
NADPH required by this cycle are generated by the light reactions.

compound and, hence, the name of the pathway. This com- plants and as such are the energy reserves for the plants
pound is soon broken down to release CO2 to the Calvin Cycle, themselves and the animals that feed on them. Ultimately
which occurs in cells surrounding the vascular bundle. The C4 the survival of all organisms on Earth is dependent on the
pathway ensures a more efficient delivery of CO2 for fixation release of this chemical energy through the catabolic pro-
and greater photosynthetic rates under conditions of high light cess of cellular respiration. All living organisms require
intensity, high temperature, and low CO2 concentrations. energy to maintain the processes of life. Even at the cel-
These same steps are part of the CAM (Crassulacean lular level, life is a highly dynamic system, requiring
Acid Metabolism) pathway, which functions in a number continuous input of energy that is used in the processes of
of cacti and succulents, plants of desert environments. This growth, repair, transport, synthesis, motility, cell division,
pathway was initially described among members of the plant and reproduction. Cellular respiration occurs continuously,
family Crassulaceae. CAM plants are unusual in that their every hour of every day, in all living cells; the need for
stomata are closed during the daytime but open at night. Thus, energy is nonstop.
they fix CO2 during the nighttime hours, incorporating it into Cellular respiration is actually a step-by-step breakdown
four-carbon organic acids. During the daylight hours, these of the chemical bonds in glucose, involving many enzymatic
compounds are broken down to release CO2 to continue on reactions, and results in the release of usable energy in the
into the Calvin Cycle. This alternate pathway allows carbon form of ATP. The overall process is the complete oxidation
fixation to occur at night when transpiration rates are low, an of glucose, resulting in CO2 and H2O and the formation of
obvious advantage in hot, dry desert environments. ATP:
C6H12O6  6O2 6CO2  6H2O  36 ATP
CELLULAR RESPIRATION This equation of cellular respiration is merely a summary of
As discussed, photosynthesis converts solar energy into a complex step-by-step process that has three major stages
chemical energy, stored in a variety of organic compounds. or pathways: glycolysis, the Krebs Cycle, and the Electron
Starch and sucrose are common storage compounds in Transport System.
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 4 Plant Physiology 65

Glycolysis is a series of reactions that occur in the molecules are used during the initial steps, resulting in a net
cytoplasm and result in the breakdown of glucose into two gain of only 2 ATP.
molecules of a three-carbon compound. Along the way, NAD
is reduced and some ATPs are produced. The Krebs Cycle
The Krebs Cycle
continues the breakdown of the three-carbon compounds in
the matrix of the mitochondria and results in the release of The remainder of cellular respiration occurs in the mitochon-
CO2. Additional ATP, NADH, and FADH2 are also gener- dria of the cell (fig. 4.14). Recall from Chapter 2 that mito-
chondria are organelles with a double membrane. Although
ated during these steps. The final stage of respiration, the
the outer membrane is smooth, the inner membrane is
Electron Transport System, occurs on the cristae, the inner
invaginated; these folds are referred to as cristae. The area
membrane of the mitochondria, and consists of a series of
between the outer and inner membranes is referred to as the
redox reactions during which significant amounts of ATP
intermembrane space; the enzyme-rich area enclosed by
are synthesized. A comparison of photosynthesis and cellular
the inner membrane is known as the matrix. The enzymes in
respiration is presented in Table 4.1.
the matrix catalyze each step in the Krebs Cycle.
Once inside the mitochondrial matrix, each of the two
Glycolysis pyruvate molecules from glycolysis undergoes several
The word glycolysis means the splitting of sugar. It starts changes before it enters the Krebs Cycle. The molecule
with glucose, which arises from the breakdown of poly- is oxidized and decarboxylated, losing a CO2, with the
saccharides, most commonly either starch or glycogen (in remaining two-carbon compound joining to coenzyme A
animals and fungi), or the conversion from other substances, to form a complex known as acetyl-CoA. During this step,
especially other sugars. The first few steps in glycolysis NAD is also reduced to NADH  H. Acetyl-CoA enters
actually add energy to the molecule in the form of phosphate the Krebs Cycle by combining with a four-carbon organic
groups (fig. 4.13). These phosphorylations are at the expense acid known as oxaloacetate (oxaloacetic acid) to form a
of two molecules of ATP. In addition, the glucose molecule six-carbon compound known as citrate (citric acid). (The
undergoes a rearrangement that converts it to fructose-1, Krebs Cycle, named in honor of Hans Krebs, who worked
6-bisphosphate. These steps prime the molecule for the later out the steps in this pathway in 1937 and later received a
oxidation. The next step splits fructose-1, 6-bisphosphate Nobel Prize for this work, is alternatively known as the
into glyceraldehyde phosphate and dihydroxyacetone Citric Acid Cycle.)
phosphate, but the latter is converted into a second mole- The steps in the cycle consist of a series of reactions
cule of glyceraldehyde phosphate. Both glyceraldehyde during which two more decarboxylations (going from a six-
phosphate molecules continue on in the glycolytic pathway carbon to a five-carbon and then to a four-carbon compound)
so that each of the remaining steps actually occurs twice. and several oxidations occur (fig. 4.15). During these steps,
Glyceraldehyde phosphate is phosphorylated and oxidized three more molecules of NAD are reduced to NADH  H,
in the next step, which also reduces NAD to NADH  H. a molecule of FAD is reduced to FADH2, and one molecule
The resulting organic acids, with two phosphate groups, give of ATP is formed. At the end of these steps, the four-carbon
up both phosphates in the remaining steps of glycolysis, oxaloacetate is regenerated, allowing the cycle to begin
yielding two molecules of pyruvate (pyruvic acid), plus 4 anew. For each molecule of pyruvate that entered the mito-
ATP and 2 NADH  H. Note that during steps 7 and 10 chondrion, three molecules of CO2 are released and 1 ATP,
a total of 4 ATP are produced; however, two of those ATP 4 NADH  H, and 1 FADH2 are produced. Since two

Table 4.1
Comparison of Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration

Photosynthesis Cellular Respiration

Overall reaction 6CO2  12H2O  sunlight C6H12O6  6O2  6H2O C6H12O6  6O2 6CO2  6H2O  36ATP
Reactants Carbon dioxide, water, sunlight Glucose, oxygen
Products Glucose Energy
By-products Oxygen Carbon dioxide  water
Cellular location Chloroplasts Cytoplasm, mitochondria
Energetics Requires energy Releases energy as ATP
Chemical pathways Light reactions and Calvin Cycle Glycolysis, Krebs Cycle, and Electron Transport System
Summary Sugar synthesized using the energy of the sun Energy released from the breakdown of sugar
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

66 UNIT II Introduction to Plant Life: Botanical Principles

1. Phosphorylation of glucose by ATP


Glucose6phosphate ADP

2. 2-3. Rearrangement to fructose, followed by a second

Fructose6phosphate ATP phosphorylation

Fructose 1,6 diphosphate

4. 5. 4-5. The six-carbon molecule is split into

2 three-carbon molecules of G3P
Dihydroxyacetone phosphate Glyceraldehyde3phosphate (G3P)


NAD 6.

13diphosphoglycerate (DPG)
NADH 6. Oxidation followed by phosphorylation produces
P P 2 NADH molecules and gives 2 molecules of
DPG, each with one high-energy phosphate bond


7. Removal of high-energy phosphate by 2 ADP
molecules produces 2 ATP molecules and gives
2 molecules of 3 phosphoglyceric acid (PGA)
twice P 2PGA

H2O 8-9. Phosphate is moved and removal of water gives

2 phosphoenol pyruvate (PEP) molecules each
with a high-energy phosphate bond


Pyruvate 10. Removal of high-energy phosphate by 2 ADP

ATP produces 2 ATP molecules and gives 2 pyruvate

Figure 4.13 Glycolysis.

LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 4 Plant Physiology 67

Intermembrane Cristae

Outer membrane


Inner membrane

(a) (b)

Figure 4.14 Mitochondrial structure. The inner mitochondrial membrane has numerous infoldings known as cristae. The enzymes and
coenzymes of the Electron Transport System occur on these membranes. The matrix contains the enzymes that carry out the Krebs Cycle,
(a) 85,000, TEM. (b) Cut-away diagram of mitochondrion to show internal organization.

CO2 removed

(from glycolysis)
Carbon Acetyl-CoA

2 carbons CoA
enter cycle

Oxaloacetate Citrate
NADH Cycle
CO2 leaves cycle
- Ketoglutarate

NADH NAD CO2 leaves cycle

Figure 4.15 Krebs Cycle. Before the cycle begins, pyruvate is converted to acetyl-CoA with the loss of CO2. The two-carbon
acetyl group combines with oxaloacetate to form the six-carbon citrate. Two decarboxylations and several redox reactions regenerate
oxaloacetate. For every pyruvate that enters the mitochondrion, 4 NADH, 1 FADH2, and 1 ATP are produced, and 3 CO2 are released.
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

68 UNIT II Introduction to Plant Life: Botanical Principles

pyruvate molecules are formed from each glucose molecule, NAD NADH
the cycle turns twice, resulting in 6 CO2 released and yield-
ing 2 ATP, 8 NADH  H, and 2 FADH2 as energy-rich
products. At this point, the entire glucose molecule has been
totally degraded; a portion of its energy has been harvested
in these Krebs Cycle products as well as the 2 ATP and 2 1
NADH  H produced in glycolysis. FAD

The Electron Transport System
The third and final stage of cellular respiration, the Electron 2
Transport System, occurs on the inner membranes of the
mitochondria and involves a series of enzymes and coen-
zymes, including several iron-containing cytochromes that
are embedded in this layer and function as electron carri-
ers. (This series of electron carriers is similar to the ones 3
described in the light reactions of photosynthesis.) During
this stage, electrons and hydrogen ions are passed from the
NADH  H and FADH2 molecules formed in glycolysis
and the Krebs Cycle down a series of redox reactions and
are finally accepted by oxygen-forming water in the process
(fig. 4.16).
The Electron Transport System is a highly exergonic
process and is coupled to the formation of ATP. This method
of ATP synthesis is referred to as oxidative phosphoryla- 5
tion. When the electron flow begins from NADH produced
within the mitochondria, enough energy is available to pro-
duce three molecules of ATP from each NADH for a total of
24 ATP from the 8 NADH. Two molecules of ATP are also H2O
synthesized during the flow of electrons from each FADH2
produced in the Krebs Cycle (4 ATP) and each NADH from
glycolysis (4 ATP). During the Electron Transport System 2H O2
then, a total of 32 ATP are generated. This number is added
to the net yield of 2 ATP from glycolysis and the 2 ATP Figure 4.16 Electron Transport System. Electrons from
produced in the Krebs Cycle, for a grand total of 36 ATP NADH and FADH2 are passed along electron-carrier molecules
for each glucose molecule that completes cellular respira- (number 1 to 5), including several cytochromes, and finally are
tion (table 4.2). These ATP molecules are then transported accepted by oxygen. This process drives the formation of ATP by
out of the mitochondria and are available for use within chemiosmosis.
the cell. It should be noted, however, that this production
of 36 ATP harnesses only a fraction, 39%, of the original
chemical energy of the glucose molecule; the remainder is theory, which applies to ATP synthesis in both respiration
lost as heat. (Although this 39% efficiency seems low, it is and photosynthesis.
actually much higher than energy conversions in mechanical
The formation of ATP during the transport of electrons
is believed to occur by the same mechanism described for
Concept Quiz
photophosphorylation during photosynthesis. During the All living organisms carry out cellular respiration. In plants
transfer of electrons, protons pass from the intermembrane the sugars that are broken down during cellular respiration
space into the matrix through an ATPase in the membrane were produced by the plant during photosynthesis.
(fig. 4.17). It is actually the passage of protons through this What is the immediate source of compounds broken down
ATP synthase enzyme that somehow drives the production during cellular respiration in humans? What is the ultimate
of ATP. This model for ATP synthesis is known as chemi- source of these compounds?
osmosis and was first proposed by Peter Mitchell during
the early 1960s. Mitchell received a Nobel Prize for this
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 4 Plant Physiology 69

Without oxygen, this last step cannot occur since no other

Table 4.2 Tally of ATP Produced compound can serve as the ultimate electron acceptor. In fact,
from the Breakdown of Glucose both the Electron Transport System and the Krebs Cycle are
During Cellular Respiration dependent on the availability of oxygen and cannot operate
in its absence.
Pathway Net ATP Yield* Some organisms, however, have metabolic pathways
Glycolysis that allow respiration to proceed in the absence of oxygen.
This type of respiration is known as anaerobic respiration,
or fermentation, and is found in some yeast (a unicellular
fungus), in bacteria, and even in muscle tissue. The most
Acetyl-CoA formation (2 turns) familiar example is alcoholic fermentation found in cer-
1 NADH  2 6 ATP tain types of yeast and utilized in the production of beer
Krebs Cycle (2 turns) and wine (see Chapter 24). When oxygen is not available,
1 ATP  2 2 ATP the yeast cells can switch to a pathway that can convert
3 NADH  2 18 ATP pyruvic acid to ethanol and CO2. In the process, NADH is
oxidized back to NAD, allowing this coenzyme to recycle
1 FADH2  2 4 ATP
back to glycolysis. Recycling of the coenzyme allows gly-
TOTAL 36 ATP colysis to continue and thus supply the energy needs of
*Each NADH produced in the mitochondrion yields 3 ATP while each NADH
the yeast, at least in a limited way. The only energy yield
produced during glycolysis has a net yield of 2 ATP. Each FADH2 also yields 2 ATP. from this alcoholic fermentation is the 2 ATP produced
during glycolysis (compared with 36 ATP during aerobic
respiration). The still energy-rich alcohol is merely a by-
product of the oxidation of NADH. If oxygen becomes
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Respiration available, yeast can switch back to aerobic respiration
The complete oxidation of glucose requires the presence of with its higher energy yield. Other anaerobic pathways
oxygen and is therefore known as aerobic respiration. As also exist in bacteria and muscle cells, in which the by-
indicated, it is the last step of respiration and involves the products are different from alcohol but the yield of NAD
direct participation of oxygen as the final electron acceptor. and ATP is similar.

Mitochondrion Chloroplast

High H H
concentration H
H    H
Intermembrane    Thylakoid

space Electron compartment

Matrix synthase Stroma
Low H H

Figure 4.17 Chemiosmosis in mitochondria and chloroplasts. In the mitochondria, protons (H) are translocated to the intermembrane
space during the transfer of electrons down the Electron Transport System. The proton gradient drives ATP synthesis as protons move
through the ATP synthase complex back to the matrix. In the chloroplast, protons are translocated into the thylakoid compartment. As
protons move through the ATP synthase complex back to the stroma, ATP is synthesized.
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

70 UNIT II Introduction to Plant Life: Botanical Principles


1. Plants obtain water from the soil, moving it up within the 1. Explain how water enters a root.
xylem through the entire plant. This movement of water is 2. What is transpiration, and how does it affect water move-
a passive phenomenon dependent on the pull of transpira- ment in plants?
tion and the cohesion of water molecules. Minerals are
3. How are the properties of water important to the theory of
also obtained from the soil and transported in the xylem.
water movement in plants?
The translocation of sugars occurs in the phloem, moving
from source (photosynthetic leaves or storage organs) 4. What are the advantages and disadvantages to having
to sink (growing organs or developing storage tissue) stomata open during the daylight hours?
through mass flow within sieve tube members. 5. Explain how the Pressure Flow Hypothesis accounts for
2. Sucrose is the usual sugar transported in the phloem; translocation in the phloem.
however, very few plants actually store this economically 6. How is light harnessed during the light reactions of pho-
valuable carbohydrate. Sugarcane and sugar beet are the tosynthesis, and what pigments are involved?
major sucrose-supplying crops. The early development 7. What is carbon fixation? How is carbon fixed during the
of sugarcane plantations in North America greatly influ- Calvin Cycle?
enced the course of history by introducing the slave trade
8. Why is glycolysis important to living organisms, and
to the continent.
where does it occur?
3. Plants are dynamic metabolic systems with hundreds of
9. Describe mitochondria and the respiratory events that
reactions occurring each second to enable plants to live,
occur in them.
grow, and respond to their environment. All life processes
are driven by energy, with some metabolic reactions being 10. Few plants can survive the saline soils of deserts or
endergonic and others exergonic. Energy transformations coastal areas, where mineral salts such as sodium chloride
occur constantly in biological systems and are part of the accumulate in extremely high concentrations. Why?
underlying principles of both photosynthesis and cellular 11. If a 500 kg (1,100 lb) pumpkin develops during a 5-month
respiration. growing season, determine how much photosynthate
4. Photosynthesis takes place in chloroplasts of green plants (products of photosynthesis) is transported into the grow-
and algae and results in the conversion of radiant energy ing fruit each hour.
into chemical energy (linking the energy of the sun with 12. How are the processes of transpiration and photosynthesis
life on Earth). Using the raw materials carbon dioxide and interrelated?
water, along with chlorophyll and sunlight, plants are able 13. In what way is life on Earth dependent on the energy of
to manufacture sugars. In the light reactions of photosyn- the sun?
thesis, energy from the sun is harnessed, forming mol-
ecules of ATP and NADPH. During this process, water
molecules are split, releasing oxygen to the atmosphere
as a by-product. During the Calvin Cycle, carbon dioxide
molecules are fixed and reduced to form sugars, using the Beardsley, Tim. 1998. Catching the Rays. Scientific American
energy provided by the ATP and NADPH from the light 278(3): 2526.
reactions. Brown, Kathryn S. 1995. The Green Clean. BioScience 45(9):
5. Cellular respiration is the means by which stored energy 579582.
is made available for the energy requirements of the Caldwell, Mark. 1995. The Amazing All-Natural Light
cell. Through respiration, the energy of carbohydrates is Machine. Discover 16(12): 8896.
transferred to ATP molecules, which are then available
Demmig-Adams, Barbara, and William W. Adams III. 2002.
for the energy needs of the cell. During aerobic respira-
Antioxidants in Photosynthesis and Human Nutrition.
tion, each molecule of glucose is completely oxidized
Science 298: 21492153.
during the many reactions of glycolysis, the Krebs Cycle,
and the Electron Transport System, resulting in the for- Dunn, Richard S. 1972. Sugar and Slaves. W.W. Norton,
mation of 36 ATP molecules. In anaerobic respiration, New York, NY.
only two molecules of ATP are formed from each glu- Govindjee, and William J. Coleman. 1990. How Plants Make
cose molecule. Oxygen. Scientific American 262(2): 5056.
LevetinMcMahon: Plants II. Introduction to Plant 4. Plant Physiology The McGrawHill
and Society, Fifth Edition Life: Botanical Principles Companies, 2008

CHAPTER 4 Plant Physiology 71

Hopkins, William G. and Norman P. A. Hner. 2004. Taiz, Lincoln, and Eduardo Zeiger. 2006. Plant Physiology,
Introduction to Plant Physiology, 3rd Edition. John Wiley 4th Edition. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA.
& Sons, New York. Turgeon, Robert. 2006. Phloem Loading: How Leaves Gain
Lee, David W. and Kevin S. Gould. 2002. Why Leaves Turn their Independence. BioScience 56(1): 1524.
Red. American Scientist 90(6): 524531. Williams, John B. 2002. Phytoremediation in Wetland
Mintz, Sidney W. 1991. Pleasure, Profit, and Satiation. Ecosystems: Progress, Problems, and Potential. Critical
Pages 112129 in Seeds of Change: A Quincentennial Reviews in Plant Sciences 21(6): 607635.
Commemoration, ed. Herman J. Viola and Carolyn
Margolis. Smithsonian Institution Press,Washington, DC.
Moffat, Anne Simon. 1995. Plants Providing Their Worth in ONLINE LEARNING CENTER
Toxic Metal Cleanup. Science 269: 302303.
Moore, Randy,W. Dennis Clark, and Darrell Vodopich. Visit www.mhhe.com/levetin5e for online quizzing, web links
to chapter-related material, and more!
1998. Botany: Plant Form and Function, 2nd Edition.
WCB/McGraw-Hill, Dubuque, IA.
Seymour, Roger S. 1997. Plants That Warm Themselves.
Scientific American 276(3): 104109.