Organisms that Use Cellular Respiration

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  • 0:01 Who Uses Cellular Respiration?
  • 0:49 What Is Cellular Respiration?
  • 1:30 Respiration in Eukaryotes
  • 2:40 Respiration in Prokaryotes
  • 3:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Erika Steele

Erika has taught college Biology, Microbiology, and Environmental Science. She has a PhD in Science Education.

This lesson discusses the various ways organisms perform cellular respiration, examining the difference between photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic organisms, as well as how eukaryotes and prokaryotes diverge in their processes of cellular respiration.

Who Uses Cellular Respiration?

All organisms, from the smallest to the largest, need a way to get energy to live. They need a way to convert nutrients into energy, in the form of ATP. There are a variety of ways that organisms can get energy from the nutrients they make or consume, one of these being cellular respiration. Throughout the history of evolution, cellular respiration has been a central element of many organisms' functioning. Even as species have developed and changed through the process of natural selection, all of the successful, surviving individuals have kept the genes that allow them to produce the enzymes needed for cellular respiration.

What Is Cellular Respiration?

So what is cellular respiration? Cellular respiration is a metabolic pathway that converts nutrients into energy (ATP) that organisms need to live. For aerobic cellular respiration to occur, oxygen has to be present. Humans and other animals obtain oxygen for cellular respiration through breathing. The oxygen you breathe is used to break down the nutrients you consume through food in order to make ATP, while carbon dioxide and water are generated as waste products. Let's explore how cellular respiration differs in eukaryotes and prokaryotes.

Respiration in Eukaryotes

Have you ever heard mitochondria, the double-membrained organelles that exist with a eukaryotic cell's cytoplasm, described as the powerhouses of the cell? Have you also wondered what that means? It means that in any eukaryotic organism, including animals, plants, fungi, and protists, most of the energy will be made in the mitochondria.

Figure 2: Respiration in photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic organisms.
respiration in eukaryotes

As depicted above, plants and other photosynthetic eukaryotes make their own food (sugar) in their chloroplasts and use oxygen generated during photosynthesis to convert that food into ATP.

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