Plant Respiration : A Gardening Primer

Plant Respiration : Plants breathe through the process of cellular respiration. Here’s everything you need to know.

Plant respiration is a chain of chemical reactions that allows all living things to survive by synthesising energy. The biochemical process facilitates air movement between species’ tissues/cells and the external environment. The process of respiration is completed by oxygen inhalation and carbon dioxide gas exhalation.

It gathers energy as a living entity through a metabolic process that oxidises nutrients and thus liberates wastes. The processes of respiration and photosynthesis are linked. These two concepts are intertwined and play critical roles in plant growth efficiency.


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Photosynthesis and respiration are related.

We are all aware that plants can synthesise their own food. Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen. Plants use this formulated glucose for energy in order to survive indefinitely. But how is this energy extracted from glucose molecules? Plant respiration, like animal respiration, is a process that allows energy to be liberated from macromolecules in food.

Another term related to the subject is cellular respiration. It is a process in which carbon-carrying compounds such as glucose are further dismantled within cells to liberate energy. The energy extracted is stored as chemical energy in the form of the ATP molecule. It stands for Adenosine Triphosphate.

These stored compounds that are dismantled are known as substrates/reactants, and the resulting compounds are known as reaction products. Some organisms that can survive in low-oxygen environments include archaea and bacteria.

These cells are an excellent example of anaerobic respiration, which involves grinding down molecules in the absence of oxygen. The akin molecular breakdown occurs in several plants and other living organisms where oxygen is present via an absolute oxidation reaction known as aerobic respiration.

According to reports, glucose is the most commonly prioritised substrate for cellular respiration. It is a simple sugar molecule composed of six carbon atoms. However, in some notable cases, protein and fat molecules can also be used.

As previously stated, the chemical bonds formed between carbon atoms are further broken during the aerobic respiration process by a reaction with oxygen. As a result, energy, carbon dioxide, and water are released.



Plant Respiration

The energy released is then stored as ATP [Adenosine Triphosphate]. When the cells require energy for other processes, the Adenosine Triphosphate molecules are broken down to release the energy stored in them.

Nonetheless, ATP molecules are distinct from other stored molecules such as carbohydrates or fats. Such molecules provide a quick and easy source of energy, particularly for body cells. Furthermore, unlike macromolecules, these molecules do not require as much energy to disassemble. As a result, ATP is referred to as the “energy currency of living entities.”

Organelles perform specific functions in minor cells. Photosynthesis, on the other hand, occurs in plant cells in organelles called chloroplasts, which are typically found in the green parts of plants. Chloroplasts contain the pigment chlorophyll, which gives plants their green colour.

Chlorophyll is a pigment found in plant cells that allows plants to absorb energy from sunlight. Plants can now efficiently convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen.

Plants, on the other hand, respire primarily through organelles known as mitochondria. Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouses of the cell” because they can quickly convert glucose into energy for use on energy-containing molecules such as ATP. They can use the cells effectively later if necessary.

In the case of plants, photosynthesis and respiration coexist, with the products of one supplying the reactants for the other. Here are some formulas to help you understand the theoretical explanation of plant respiration.


Plant Respiration: A Theoretical Explanation

Plant respiration requires the sugars formed during photosynthesis, as well as oxygen, to generate energy for plant growth. In many ways, respiration is the inverse of photosynthesis. Plants produce food for survival in their natural environment.

Plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) from the environment to produce sugars and oxygen (O2). These are then used as an important source of energy. At the same time, photosynthesis is limited to the leaves and stems. As a result, respiration occurs in the leaves, stems, and roots of plants. The following diagram depicts the plant respiration method:

C6H12O6 6O2 6CO2 6H2O + 32 ATP (Energy)



Plants’ respiration process

There is relatively less gas exchange when respiration occurs in different parts of plants. As a result, each part of the plant nourishes and meets its energy needs. As a result, individual plant parts such as leaves, stems, and roots exchange gases.

Stomata [tiny pores] in leaves are required for gaseous exchange. Stomatal oxygen consumption is used by cells in the leaves to break down glucose into water and carbon dioxide.


Plant Respiration- Roots’ respiration

Roots are the plant’s most underground component, consuming air from the gaps or spaces between soil particles. As a result, the oxygen consumed by the roots is used to generate energy, which can then be used to transport salts or other minerals from the soil.

We’ve talked a lot about the photosynthesis process and plants’ ability to produce food. However, it only occurs in the parts of the plant that contain chlorophyll, which are usually the greener parts of the plant—there are many misconceptions about plant respiration for photosynthesis.

Respiration occurs throughout the day, but photosynthesis occurs only during the day with the help of sunlight. As a result, respiration occurs in plants at night.

It’s possible that’s why we often hear people say that sleeping under a tree is a bad idea at night. It may cause suffocation due to the excessive carbon dioxide produced by trees during the respiration process.



Plant Respiration- In stems, respiration occurs.

The air exposed to the stem spreads into the stomata and moves through various cell parts for respiration. The carbon dioxide produced is also expelled through the stomata at this point. Lenticels exchange gases, especially in woody or higher plants.


Plant Respiration – Leaves’ respiration

Leaves are densely packed with tiny pores known as stomata, through which normal gaseous exchange occurs. Meanwhile, guard cells keep the stomata in sync. Finally, the gas exchange process takes place with the stoma closing and opening, connecting the inferior leaves to the atmosphere.


The Importance of Air Temperature

Plants breathe 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Night respiration is visible, however, as the photosynthesis process is completed. Because the plants may experience stress at some point during the night, the temperature must be kept much lower than during the day.

Take, for example, a marathon runner. When running, the person breathes faster than when standing still. As a result, a runner’s respiration is increased, and his or her body temperature eventually rises. The same principle holds true for plants. As the nighttime temperature rises, so does the respiration rate, and similar temperature rises. As a result, it may harm the flower or result in poor plant growth.




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