Do Plants 'Breathe'?
Excerpted from BYJU'S: The Learning Shop
All living organisms, including plants, receive their energy required for their survival from a chain of
chemical reactions called respiration.
Most oxygen comes from tiny ocean plants called phytoplankton that live near the
water’s surface. Like all plants, they photosynthesize by using sunlight and carbon
dioxide to make food. A by-product of photosynthesis is oxygen.
There are many differences between respiration and photosynthesis. The principal
difference, however, between photosynthesis and respiration is that photosynthesis
utilizes carbon dioxide and water in the presence of light to produce glucose and o
xygen, whereas respiration uses oxygen and glucose to power the activities of the
cell. Respiration that releases carbon dioxide and water as a by-product.
Plants use photosynthesis to capture carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide
is NOT released during photosynthesis, but small amounts of that gas are emitted both
day and night as a by-product of cellular respiration.
The majority of plants absorb carbon dioxide during the day for photosynthesis and do
so in greater amounts than they release for cellular respiration. and then release half
Plants also release oxygen into the atmosphere through photosynthesis.
Plants do require oxygen for respiration which in return gives out carbon dioxide. Unlike animals,
plants do not have any specialized structures for gaseous exchange but they have stomata (present
in leaves) and lenticels (present in stems) which are involved in the exchange of gases. Compared to
animals and humans, plant roots, stems, and leaves respire at a very lower rate.
In this process of cellular respiration, plants produce glucose molecules through photosynthesis
process by capturing the solar energy and converting it into glucose. There are many live experiments
to prove that plants do breath. All plants do respire to provide energy for their cells to stay active or alive.
During respiration, very little amount of gas exchanges takes place within the different parts of the
plants. Therefore, each part takes care of its own energy requirements.
Roots, stems, and leaves of plants exchange gases for respiration separately. As we all know, leaves
have tiny pores called stomata, which is used for the exchange of gases. The oxygen, taken in
through stomata is used by cells in the leaves to break down glucose into carbon dioxide and water.
Plant respiration occurs 24 hours per day, but night respiration is more evident since the
photosynthesis process ceases. During the night, it is very important that the temperature is
cooler than during the day because plants can experience stress. As the night time temperature
increases, the respiration rate increases and consequently plant's temperature increases. This
action could result in flower damage and poor plant growth.
Roots, the underground part of the plants absorb air from the air spaces present between the soil
particles. Thus, the oxygen absorbed through roots is used to release energy which is later utilized
for the transportation of minerals and salts from the soil.
We are aware of the fact that plants have the unique ability to photosynthesize. Photosynthesis is
the process by which plants prepare their own food. It takes place only in the parts of plants that
contain chlorophyll, i.e. only in the green parts of the plants. The process of photosynthesis is so
prominent that it sometimes masks the process of respiration in plants. However, we must know
that respiration in plants occurs throughout the day while photosynthesis process takes place
only in the presence of light. Therefore, at night the respiration in plants becomes prominent.
That is why we often hear that people are asked not to sleep under a tree at night. This may cause
suffocation due to the excessive presence of carbon dioxide released by trees as a result of respiration.
In the case of the stem, the air gets diffused in the stomata and passes through various parts of the
cell for respiration. The carbon dioxide produced during this stage also diffuses through the stomata.
In higher plants or woody plants, the gaseous exchange is carried out by lenticels.
Leaves comprise tiny pores referred to as stomata. The exchange of gases takes place via stomata
through the process of diffusion. Each stoma is controlled by Guard Cells. The opening and closing
of the stoma help in the exchange of gases between the atmosphere and the interior of leaves.
This type of respiration takes place in the mitochondria of all eukaryotic entities.
Food molecules are completely oxidized into the carbon dioxide, water, and energy is released in the
presence of oxygen. This type of respiration is observed in all the higher organisms and necessitates
This type of respiration occurs within the cytoplasm of prokaryotic entities
such as yeast and bacteria. Here, lesser energy is liberated as a result of incomplete oxidation of food
in the absence of oxygen. Ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide are produced during anaerobic respiration.
||A pigment that gives plants their green color, and it helps plants create their own food
||Cytoplasm is a thick solution that fills each cell and is enclosed by the cell membrane.
||The outermost, layer of cells covering the stem, root, leaf, flower, fruit, and seed parts of
||Cells that contain a well-defined nucleus. They include protozoans, algae, fungi, plants,
||Crescent-shaped cells that surround a stoma in the epidermis. Changes in the swelling of the
cells cause the opening and closing of the stoma.
||Raised pores in the stem of a woody plant that allows gas exchange between the atmosphere
and the internal tissues.
||Mitochondria are organelles within eukaryotic cells that produce the main energy molecule
used by the cell.
||The process by which green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into
||Cells lack a “true nucleus”. They include yeast and bacteria.
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