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Animation: Energy Flow and Chemical Recycling

by Pearson
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Let's look at energy flow and chemical recycling in an ecosystem, starting with photosynthesis. The ingredients for photosynthesis are carbon dioxide and water. Carbon dioxide is obtained from the air by a plant's leaves, and water is obtained from the damp soil by a plant's roots. The chloroplasts present in the cells of leaves use energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into organic molecules like glucose. The process also releases oxygen into the environment. Now let's look at cellular respiration. In eukaryotic cells, many of the steps of cellular respiration take place in mitochondria. Organic molecules and oxygen from photosynthesis are used in cellular respiration to generate ATP, which powers the work of the cell. During cellular respiration, some energy is released as heat. Carbon dioxide and water are also released as waste products. They are recycled as the raw materials for photosynthesis. Notice that in an ecosystem, energy flows in one direction, from sunlight to chemical energy in molecules to heat. In contrast, chemicals cycle between organisms and the physical environment.
Let's look at energy flow and chemical recycling in an ecosystem, starting with photosynthesis. The ingredients for photosynthesis are carbon dioxide and water. Carbon dioxide is obtained from the air by a plant's leaves, and water is obtained from the damp soil by a plant's roots. The chloroplasts present in the cells of leaves use energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into organic molecules like glucose. The process also releases oxygen into the environment. Now let's look at cellular respiration. In eukaryotic cells, many of the steps of cellular respiration take place in mitochondria. Organic molecules and oxygen from photosynthesis are used in cellular respiration to generate ATP, which powers the work of the cell. During cellular respiration, some energy is released as heat. Carbon dioxide and water are also released as waste products. They are recycled as the raw materials for photosynthesis. Notice that in an ecosystem, energy flows in one direction, from sunlight to chemical energy in molecules to heat. In contrast, chemicals cycle between organisms and the physical environment.