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Types of Cellular Respiration

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  • 0:00 What Is Cellular Respiration?
  • 1:06 Aerobic Respiration
  • 2:04 Anaerobic Respiration
  • 2:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stephanie Matalone

Stephanie taught high school science and math and has a Master's Degree in Secondary Education.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the basics of cellular respiration. You'll learn about the similarities and differences between aerobic and anaerobic respiration, which are the two main types of cellular respiration. Then, you can test yourself with a quiz.

What Is Cellular Respiration?

You wake up in the morning, get out of bed, and eat a nice big bowl of cereal. But how did your body get the energy to move your legs to even get out of bed? You know you need to eat to have energy, but how does your body make use of that food you eat? It all has to do with a little something called cellular respiration.

Cellular respiration is the process by which organisms turn food into a usable source of energy called adenosine triphosphate_(ATP). ATP is a molecule used to transport energy around an organism, whether that be a microscopic unicellular bacteria or a large multicellular animal like an elephant.

Muscle cells, for example, cannot directly use food to move your legs. The cells must use ATP that is made from respiration to move those legs. ATP has three phosphate groups, and when the last group is broken off, it releases energy that cells can actually use. But not all respiration is the same. Your body can actually go through two types of respiration: aerobic and anaerobic.

Aerobic Respiration

Aerobic respiration is the more common type of respiration that occurs in the presence of oxygen. The chemical formula for aerobic respiration shows that glucose and water react to form the products: carbon dioxide, water, and ATP. This type of respiration produces 36 ATP molecules from one glucose molecule.


C 6 H 12 O 6 (glucose) + 6O 2 (oxygen) --> 6CO 2 (carbon dioxide) + 6H 2 O (water) + 36ATP


Aerobic respiration occurs in three steps:

  1. Glycolysis breaks down glucose into two smaller molecules called pyruvate
  2. The Krebs cycle, or the citric acid cycle, where the pyruvate molecules go through a series of reactions to release electrons
  3. The last step includes the electron transport chain in which electrons are used to create most of the 36 ATP

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