Cellular Respiration in Plants

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  • 0:00 What is Cellular Respiration?
  • 0:49 Reactants & Products
  • 1:49 Steps in Cellular Respiration
  • 4:00 Photosynthesis
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, we'll learn what cellular respiration is and the role it has in plants. We'll cover what is used and made in cellular respiration and why plants need it.

What Is Cellular Respiration?

Picture a track meet. All the athletes are sprinting around the track, out of breath and sweating. The coach on the sidelines cheers them on, encouraging them to use all their energy. It's easy to see they're using all they've got! Now, picture the plants around the track. Although they don't seem to be working as hard as our track stars, they are actually using energy every moment they're alive. So where does all this energy come from? The answer is cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is how all living things make energy. Different living things do it in slightly different ways. Today we'll take a look at how this process occurs in plants. First, let's look at what we need to start cellular respiration, the reactants, and what we get out of it, the products.

Reactants and Products

The purpose of cellular respiration is to make energy. Cells store energy as ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. ATP acts like money in the cell. Cells spend it to get things done or make different products they need. To make ATP in cellular respiration, we need some raw materials, or reactants, to start with. Glucose is the type of sugar needed. It holds most of the energy we want to covert to ATP in chemical bonds. As the glucose is converted to other compounds by the cell, energy is released and can be stored as ATP.

Plant cells also use oxygen to get the most energy out of glucose. Cells combine oxygen with glucose to make the products ATP and carbon dioxide. Although carbon dioxide is bad for people, plants actually use this bi-product to make sugar, which we'll see later. For now, let's look at the different steps plant cells use to make ATP.

Steps in Cellular Respiration

Although the overall equation might seem simple, there are actually lots of steps to making ATP. However, we can divide all those small steps into three main parts. Let's look at what each of these parts entails.

Step 1: Glycolysis

During glycolysis, cells bring glucose into the cell inside the main compartment, called the cytoplasm. Then, they use a small amount of energy to activate, or get glucose ready, to release energy. By the end of glycolysis, a cell turns one glucose into two pyruvate molecules, another compound that will be used in the next step, and two ATP are gathered. During cellular respiration, the cell also collects a molecule called NADH. This molecule is used in the last step of cellular respiration to create ATP.

Step 2: The Krebs Cycle

The Krebs cycle is also known as the citric acid cycle. The pyruvate formed in glycolysis is moved into another compartment of the cell called the mitochondria, where it is turned into acetyl Co-A. The mitochondria carries out the rest of the steps in cellular respiration. When acetyl Co-A enters, it moves through a cycle where some additional energy is collected as GTP, similar to ATP and NADH. Carbon dioxide is also released at this point. At the end of the Krebs cycle, the NADH are transferred to the next step, the electron transport chain.

Step 3: Oxidative Phosphorylation

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