Photosynthesis. The most important biological process on earth! Plants are unique because they create their own nutrients from inorganic material. Plants can literally create fats, carbohydrates and proteins. This is pretty incredible when you think about the fact that we, as humans, rely on other plants and animals to provide us with the nutrients we need. We eat a variety of foods (plants and animals) in order to get a balance of these nutrients. However, all major life forms on earth are dependent on plants and the process of photosynthesis. I think it’s worth understanding how photosynthesis works.
Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction in which light energy from the sun combines with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and water, which the plants convert into sugar. The plant then “builds” these sugars into fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
On a more complex level, the process of photosynthesis is dependent upon chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives plants their green color. I thought the following was really interesting; Chlorophyll is actually very, very similar to Hemoglobin, which is the substance that gives our blood its red color. The main difference between Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin is a difference of Magnesium and Iron. Chlorophyll contains Magnesium in its molecules and Hemoglobin contains Iron. I think this is really cool how similar and different plants and animals can be.
Now that we know photosynthesis is how plants create nutrients (fats, sugars, carbohydrates and proteins) we can examine more practical applications of this knowledge.
Plants that have a dark green color are usually more nutrient dense. This also means its photosynthetic process is working more effectively than a similar plant that has an uneven or lighter green color. This is evident if you have ever seen plants growing in very fertile soil. For example, you have a nice garden with soil rich in minerals and organic matter that you spend time, money and energy to create. Just outside of your garden you might notice how the plants are of a lighter greenish color. This is due to the availability of nutrients, both organic and inorganic to the plant. Again, grass that is a dark green color is an indication of a healthy Photosynthesis process and fertile soil.
Let’s move on to the byproducts produced by Photosynthesis. As you already know, some of the “byproducts” of photosynthesis are fats, sugars, carbohydrates and proteins. There is also another very important one. Oxygen!! The plant takes in Carbon Dioxide thought its pores known as Stomata. It also absorbs water from the soil. Using these two substances and sunlight, which is the chemical reaction I explained earlier (Photosynthesis), and ultimately Oxygen is the byproduct of this chemical reaction. Here is how it works. The plant holds onto the Hydrogen (The H of the H2O in water). If you have been following this blog for a while you know that Hydrogen is the energy which livestock love to eat, which due to Photosynthesis, is contained in the top of the plant. The Oxygen is then released by the plant into the atmosphere. This is why we have an abundance of oxygen on planet earth!
The more you know about the small details like Photosynthesis the more you begin to realize that everything is connected. For example, you might not have believed me about the Hydrogen being in the top 1/3 of a grass plant prior to reading this. But hopefully you now see why this is the case.
I’d encourage you to take some time and observe any and all plants and take note of the color of their growing leaves. What color are they? Dark green, yellow, both? Think about why this might be the case and keep Photosynthesis in mind. Have any of you observed the differences in leaf color? What did you find?