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The Relationship Between Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration

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  • 0:02 The Earth's Cycles
  • 0:58 Photosynthesis and Respiration
  • 2:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

The ecosystems of the world are generally in balance with one another. Animals and plants live in mutually beneficial relationships. We will examine one of these relationships: the relationship between photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

The Earth's Cycles

The natural world is all about balance. Through the process of evolution, animals and plants have developed the balance necessary to benefit and survive with one another. Those that don't, often die out. The ecosystems they inhabit play a big part in what is needed to survive.

An ecosystem isn't just the rocks, soil, and weather, it also includes plants and animals. For this reason, a lot of plants and animals develop relationships that are mutually beneficial. A tree will provide a surface for climbing plants to reach to the sky, or a whale will be groomed by fish who've adapted to eat dead skin and parasites on the whale's body.

It's these kind of relationships that make the earth's ecosystems work in a kind of cycle. The presence of one animal or plant relies on the others in the ecosystem. One example of this relationship is the photosynthesis of a plant, and the cellular respiration of an animal.

Photosynthesis and Respiration

Photosynthesis takes place when plants take light from the sun, water from the soil, and carbon dioxide from the air, and turn it into energy, in the form of glucose, to allow the plant to function and grow.

Photosynthesis equation
Photosynthesis equation

Cellular respiration is where the cells of animals take oxygen from the air and energy from the food they eat, also often in the form of glucose, and use it to power their functions.

Cellular respiration equation
Cellular respiration equation

You might already have noticed that these equations are rather similar. In fact, they are the exact reverse of one another. The by-products of photosynthesis are oxygen and glucose. The by-products of cellular respiration are carbon dioxide and water. This is no coincidence.

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