in case you haven’t realized the extent of my plant love, i’ll just tell you now: i adore plants! seriously. they are super cool–not only beautiful, but they make their own food and are self-reliant–unlike us people…we eat plants, and we eat other animals who eat plants.
so, how do they do it? well…through the three major plant functions–photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration.
ready for your crash course? here we go…
the process that plants use to turn sun, water, and carbon dioxide into food and oxygen is called photosynthesis, literally meaning “to put together with light.” the chlorophyll in plant cells absorbs radiant energy from sunlight and uses it to split H2O and CO2 into glucose that the plant can use to power respiration and other processes, as well as producing oxygen and water.
in michael pollan’s an omnivore’s dilemma, the author is invited to a bug’s eye view of a virginia farm pasture, and in turn, relays his account of the wonder of plants abilities to turn solar energy into, well, dinner…along with a page-turning view of agribusiness and cattlelots, and the story of a modern-day hunter-gather hunting and gathering. (in case you haven’t realized the extent of my michael pollan love, i’ll i’ll just tell you now: i adore him.)
the process where plants turn sugars produced during photosynthesis into energy directed toward tissue growth is respiration. unlike photosynthesis, respiration occurs in all cells (plant and animal) and at night and day. it’s like when i have too much coffee, and i occur all night and all day…
the third major plant function is transpiration. from roots to shoots, this process uses ninty percent of the water the plant takes in for transporting minerals, sugars, and chemicals, cooling leaf and stem tissue, and maintaining turgor pressure (which i talked about briefly here.) Temperature, humidity, soil moisture, and air movement can all effect the rate that a plant’s stomata lose water.
with that said, i will leave you with this
“holy-moly science is sweet!” image:
an open tomato plant stoma shown
under an electron microscope,
courtesy of wikipedia.