Do plants take in the same amount of CO2 as they release?

Do plants take in the same amount of CO2 as they release?

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There are many claims in the media that trees remove more carbon dioxide form the atmosphere than they release back into the atmosphere. By what chemical pathway can this occur? The law that matter is neither created nor destroyed surely applies as shown by the chemical pathway in the photosynthesis and respiration process.

6CO2 + 6H2O + sunlight energy. -----> C6H12O6 + 6O2 C6H12O6 + 6O2. -----> 6H2O + ATP (energy) + 6CO2

Thus the SAME amount of 6CO2 taken in is released, in order for the plant to have formation of the ATP usable energy for plant tissue creation, so photosynthesis cannot happen at a more rapid rate than respiration. If that happened, then yes, more CO2 is removed then released, but that would leave an unbalanced equation. I am not arguing the story further down the road of tree tissue and carbon sequestration/storage.

You've made one faulty assumption: that the second reaction is occuring at the same rate as the first. In fact, plants only burn enough glucose to fuel their activities. Much of the formed glucose is converted into storage forms like cellulose and starch. In fact, the vast majority of a plant's carbon mass comes ultimately from CO2 which has been converted photosynthetically into carbohydrate forms. (Further reading)

Ultimately, when plants die, those carbon molecules are used as food for other species, such as animal and bacteria. Ultimately, whether in composted plant material or fecal mater, the carbon is deposited on the ground. So ultimately it is correct that trees & plants are removing CO2 permanently from the atmosphere. Although some is being released to the atmosphere catabolically, more is re-absorbed for anabolic processes, and ultimately, that CO2 gets deposited on the ground in more complex carbon forms.

The amount of carbon stored in plants can be measured by carbon mass in it's dry weight. Trees are known for carbon sequestration ability, because they're long-lived, improve local microclimate and water retention and provide a habitat for many species. There are many positive consequences of having more trees, but soil is a much more efficient biological vehicle for carbon sequestration (still trees required).

Photosynthesis in Plants

Plants make their own food by photosynthesis. During photosynthesis a plant takes in water, carbon dioxide and light energy, and gives out glucose and oxygen. It takes light from the sun, carbon and oxygen atoms from the air and hydrogen from water to make energy molecules called ATP, which then build glucose molecules. The oxygen released by photosynthesis comes from the water a plant absorbs. Every water molecule is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, but only the hydrogen atoms are required. The oxygen atoms are released back into the air. Plants can only photosynthesize when they have light.

Out of breath

Mountaineers generally start experiencing altitude sickness at about 3000m above sea level. At this altitude, air composition is the same but the pressure is a lot lower. This means you get less oxygen in each breath, making the oxygen concentration feel lower.

The air gets pretty thin up there.

At 3000m, the equivalent oxygen concentration is only slightly below 15%.

So we have a good idea of what would happen to Lucie after her three days in space. She’ll probably have a bit of a headache, feel a bit nauseous, have some trouble sleeping, and maybe get some weird dreams. Three days isn’t long to acclimatise to 3000m, but it should be enough to prevent anything worse happening.

Three days later, Lucie will have breathed all her air twice. At this point, she’ll be down to roughly 10% oxygen. That’s equivalent to 6,000m altitude, a little bit higher than Kilimanjaro.

Six days isn’t long enough to properly acclimatise to these oxygen levels. Lucie might be able to survive there for a while, but it’s not sustainable. And she’ll use up more oxygen with every breath.

The most likely outcome is a pretty unpleasant death from either cerebral edema (swelling in the brain) or pulmonary edema (where you essentially drown in your own fluids). Not ideal.

But still, six days should be long enough for our intrepid extraterrestrial explorer to find a way out, right? Or maybe a passing spaceship will receive her distress call and come to rescue her?

After all, Matt Damon was growing potatoes and communicating with Earth in no time.

C4 Plants

The C4 process is also known as the Hatch-Slack pathway and is named for the 4-carbon intermediate molecules that are produced, malic acid or aspartic acid. It wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists discovered the C4 pathway while studying sugar cane. C4 has one step in the pathway before the Calvin Cycle which reduces the amount of carbon that is lost in the overall process. The carbon dioxide that is taken in by the plant is moved to bundle sheath cells by the malic acid or aspartic acid molecules (at this point the molecules are called malate and aspartate). The oxygen content inside bundle sheath cells is very low, so the RuBisCO enzymes are less likely to catalyze oxidation reactions and waste carbon molecules. The malate and aspartate molecules release the carbon dioxide in the chloroplasts of the bundle sheath cells and the Calvin Cycle begins. Bundle sheath cells are part of the Kranz leaf anatomy that is characteristic of C4 plants.

About 3% or 7,600 species of plants use the C4 pathway, about 85% of which are angiosperms (flowering plants). C4 plants include corn, sugar cane, millet, sorghum, pineapple, daisies and cabbage.

The image above shows the C4 carbon fixation pathway.

Do all Plants Produce Oxygen?- Garden facts

Do all plants produce oxygen?- Yes, All green plants produce Oxygen. In fact, some non-green members of the plant kingdom produce oxygen. Some produce less and some produce more but they all do.

The plant kingdom is so big that knowing them all in not possible. They do have exceptions but in general, we can say that all plants produce Oxygen.

Only the complete parasitic plants like dodder and Cuscuta depend on other plants for survival.

Technically plants do not produce Oxygen. Oxygen is a bi-product of Photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a photochemical reaction in which water combined with carbon dioxide in the presence of sunlight and chlorophyll. Glucose and oxygen are the products of photosynthesis.

Actually, the Oxygen released in air is the leftover of photosynthesis. Technically plants should have used this oxygen. But there is not much carbon and hydrogen left to produce glucose. So the plant removes the rest of the unused oxygen.

Do all plants produce the same amount of oxygen?

No, definitely not. All plants do not produce the same amount of oxygen. The amount of oxygen produced is directly dependent on the amount of photosynthesis done. More photosynthesis means more oxygen and more photosynthesis needs more chlorophyll. So It can be assumed that different plant produce different amount of oxygen

Do you know- All the Grass on the earth produces more oxygen than any other existing plant we know.

Does it mean that Grass produces the maximum amount of oxygen?- Technically Yes but Practically no. Isn’t this confusing.

No, this is not contradicting. Most of the oxygen produced by grass is either consumed or being balanced by the carbon dioxide produced by herbivorous animals.

Do plants produce more oxygen than trees?- Big plants or trees produce more Oxygen than any small household plant. A big tree means more leaves and more leaves mean more oxygen. Therefore, It is correct that trees produce more oxygen than small plants.

Big trees need more oxygen for respiration. The ratio of oxygen produced to oxygen consumed is much higher in trees.

Have you ever thought- Why does the amount of net oxygen produced by a tree be higher than that produced by a plant?

If not, then think once. Actually, the amount of respiration and transpiration in small plants is much higher than the trees. Why? Because of the difference in their metabolic activities. No, I am not talking about food being chewed and digestion and all.

Metabolism in Plant kingdom refers to their general day to day working. It is like blooming of flowers, the ripening of fruits, growing of roots, and stems. Everything is dependent on the rate of growth. Here comes an interesting fact. Small plants grow faster than big trees due to their fast metabolism.

This is a valid pint to satisfy the statement- Trees produce more net oxygen than small plants.

Can a plant survive without oxygen?- Yes, theoretically a plant can survive without oxygen. Carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight are essential for plants. Oxygen is a by-product of photosynthesis. Once the reaction started in daylight, it will continue in the night also.

This is why scientists think plants can grow in mars long before we can move on for settlement. Those plants can also develop an artificial environment for other life forms.

Final Words

All green plants produce oxygen. Parasitic Plants like Cuscuta, dodder, and others do not produce oxygen. Trees produce more oxygen than small plants. Plants can live without oxygen once grown, It is not science fiction.

Missed Something… Anything else the let me know. What do you think about plants and oxygen produced by them? Write down your views and ideas. Keep reading for more interesting garden facts. Stay tuned and keep reading.


Hi, My name is Sukant. I am an I.T professional. Gardening for me is not only a hobby, its a way of living life with nature. Due to my Family background as Commercial Farmers for more than 3 generations: I personally feel attached to the green. I am not an expert, I'm here just to share my 25 years of experience in gardening. Believe me Its always Refreshing.

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Do plants take in the same amount of CO2 as they release? - Biology

I'l bet you are wondering that because you already know that plants can make oxygen. You probably already know that in photosynthesis, plants take CO2 from the air, water (H2O) from their roots, and energy from the sun, and make sugar (C6H12O6).

What a lot of people don't realize is that when there's little or no light, plants do the same thing we do. The break down the sugar to release CO2, water, and energy. This requires oxygen. The reason is pretty complex, but basically, electrons get passed around, and oxygen has to pick them up at the end of the process.

If you measured the amount of oxygen and CO2 dissolved in a lake, how do you think the daytime levels would compare to the nighttime levels? Would a plant need oxygen if it were under lights 24 hours a day?

Plants respire, just like we do. When a plant doesn't have access to light, it burns sugar to make energy, consuming energy. It's just that plants use sugars to build their bodies as well as an energy storage, so over the course of a plant's life, as it grows, it makes more sugar than it burns, and so releases more oxygen than it consumes.

Plants need oxygen for the same reason you and Ido -- without oxygen we can't convert the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins we eat into energy. We call this process respiration, and the formula for this sort of reaction is like this:

sugar + oxygen --> carbon dioxide + water + energy

So we breathe in oxygen and eat food, and we exhale carbon dioxide and excrete water.

This exact same reaction goes on in every living cell, including all plant cells. But of course plants don't have to eat food, because they make their own food using photosynthesis.

The formula for photosynthesis is basically this:

carbon dioxide + water + sunlight --> sugar + oxygen

You can see that this is basically the reverse of respiration, but plants convert the energy in sunlight into the chemical bonds of the sugar. When cells respire, they break those bonds and get the energy out of them. Anyway, you can see that photosynthesis produces oxygen as a waste product, so for the most part plants don't have to breathe in extra oxygen -- they can just use the oxygen that they produce during photosynthesis. However, plants only perform photosynthesis in the green parts, like leaves and stems, but all plant cells need oxygen to respire. Cells in the leaves get plenty of oxygen from photosynthesis, but cells in the roots often need to get oxygen from the environment to stay alive. Even though roots are buried, they can absorb oxygen from the small air spaces in soil. This is why it's possible to 'drown' plants by watering them too much.

If the soil is way too wet, the roots are smothered, the roots can't get any oxygen from the air, and the cells in the roots die. Without those root cells, the rest of the plant dies. Some plants have evolved adaptations to deal with extremely wet soil.

Mangroves are trees that live in swampy environments along the coast in the tropics. The roots of mangroves are often entirely under saltwater, so they have special structures called pneumatophores (Greek for "air carrier") that act like snorkels, sticking up out of the water to get a oxygen for the roots.


Light Edit

Many plant organs contain photoreceptors (phototropins, cryptochromes, and phytochromes), each of which reacts very specifically to certain wavelengths of light. [6] These light sensors tell the plant if it is day or night, how long the day is, how much light is available, and where the light is coming from. Shoots generally grow towards light, while roots grow away from it, responses known as phototropism and skototropism, respectively. They are brought about by light-sensitive pigments like phototropins and phytochromes and the plant hormone auxin. [7]

Many plants exhibit certain behaviors at specific times of the day for example, flowers that open only in the mornings. Plants keep track of the time of day with a circadian clock. [6] This internal clock is synchronized with solar time every day using sunlight, temperature, and other cues, similar to the biological clocks present in other organisms. The internal clock coupled with the ability to perceive light also allows plants to measure the time of the day and so determine the season of the year. This is how many plants know when to flower (see photoperiodism). [6] The seeds of many plants sprout only after they are exposed to light. This response is carried out by phytochrome signalling. Plants are also able to sense the quality of light and respond appropriately. For example, in low light conditions, plants produce more photosynthetic pigments. If the light is very bright or if the levels of harmful ultraviolet radiation increase, plants produce more of their protective pigments that act as sunscreens. [8]

Gravity Edit

To orient themselves correctly, plants must be able to sense the direction of gravity. The subsequent response is known as gravitropism.

In roots, gravity is sensed and translated in the root tip, which then grows by elongating in the direction of gravity. In shoots, growth occurs in the opposite direction, a phenomenon known as negative gravitropism. [9] Poplar stems can detect reorientation and inclination (equilibrioception) through gravitropism. [10]

At the root tip, amyloplasts containing starch granules fall in the direction of gravity. This weight activates secondary receptors, which signal to the plant the direction of the gravitational pull. After this occurs, auxin is redistributed through polar auxin transport and differential growth towards gravity begins. In the shoots, auxin redistribution occurs in a way to produce differential growth away from gravity.

For perception to occur, the plant often must be able to sense, perceive, and translate the direction of gravity. Without gravity, proper orientation will not occur and the plant will not effectively grow. The root will not be able to uptake nutrients or water, and the shoot will not grow towards the sky to maximize photosynthesis. [11]

Touch Edit

Thigmotropism is directional movement that occurs in plants responding to physical touch. [12] Climbing plants, such as tomatoes, exhibit thigmotropism, allowing them to curl around objects. These responses are generally slow (on the order of multiple hours), and can best be observed with time-lapse cinematography, but rapid movements can occur as well. For example, the so-called "sensitive plant" (Mimosa pudica) responds to even the slightest physical touch by quickly folding its thin pinnate leaves such that they point downwards, [13] and carnivorous plants such as the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) produce specialized leaf structures that snap shut when touched or landed upon by insects. In the Venus flytrap, touch is detected by cilia lining the inside of the specialized leaves, which generate an action potential that stimulates motor cells and causes movement to occur. [14]

Smell Edit

Wounded or infected plants produce distinctive volatile odors, (e.g. methyl jasmonate, methyl salicylate, green leaf volatiles), which can in turn be perceived by neighboring plants. [15] [16] Plants detecting these sorts of volatile signals often respond by increasing their chemical defenses or and prepare for attack by producing chemicals which defend against insects or attract insect predators. [15]

Plant hormones and chemical signals Edit

Plants systematically use hormonal signalling pathways to coordinate their development and morphology.

Plants produce several signal molecules usually associated with animal nervous systems, such as glutamate, GABA, acetylcholine, melatonin, and serotonin. [17] They may also use ATP, NO, and ROS for signaling in similar ways as animals do. [18]

Electrophysiology Edit

Plants have a variety of methods of delivering electrical signals. The four commonly recognized propagation methods include action potentials (APs), variation potentials (VPs), local electric potentials (LEPs), and systemic potentials (SPs) [19] [20] [21]

Although plant cells are not neurons, they can be electrically excitable and can display rapid electrical responses in the form of APs to environmental stimuli. APs allow for the movement of signaling ions and molecules from the pre-potential cell to the post-potential cell(s). These electrophysiological signals are constituted by gradient fluxes of ions such as H + , K + , Cl − , Na + , and Ca 2+ but it is also thought that other electrically charge ions such as Fe 3+ , Al 3+ , Mg 2+ , Zn 2+ , Mn 2+ , and Hg 2+ may also play a role in downstream outputs. [22] The maintenance of each ions electrochemical gradient is vital in the health of the cell in that if the cell would ever reach equilibrium with its environment, it is dead. [23] [24] This dead state can be due to a variety of reasons such as ion channel blocking or membrane puncturing.

These electrophysiological ions bind to receptors on the receiving cell causing downstream effects result from one or a combination of molecules present. This means of transferring information and activating physiological responses via a signaling molecule system has been found to be faster and more frequent in the presence of APs. [22]

These action potentials can influence processes such as actin-based cytoplasmic streaming, plant organ movements, wound responses, respiration, photosynthesis, and flowering. [25] [26] [27] [28] These electrical responses can cause the synthesis of numerous organic molecules, including ones that act as neuroactive substances in other organisms such as calcium ions. [29]

The ion flux across cells also influence the movement of other molecules and solutes. This changes the osmotic gradient of the cell, resulting in changes to turgor pressure in plant cells by water and solute flux across cell membranes. These variations are vital for nutrient uptake, growth, many types of movements (tropisms and nastic movements) among other basic plant physiology and behavior. [30] [31] (Higinbotham 1973 Scott 2008 Segal 2016).

Thus, plants achieve behavioural responses in environmental, communicative, and ecological contexts.

Signal perception Edit

Plant behavior is mediated by phytochromes, kinins, hormones, antibiotic or other chemical release, changes of water and chemical transport, and other means.

Plants have many strategies to fight off pests. For example, they can produce a slew of different chemical toxins against predators and parasites or they can induce rapid cell death to prevent the spread of infectious agents. Plants can also respond to volatile signals produced by other plants. [32] [33] Jasmonate levels also increase rapidly in response to mechanical perturbations such as tendril coiling. [34]

In plants, the mechanism responsible for adaptation is signal transduction. [35] [36] [37] [38] Adaptive responses include:

  • Active foraging for light and nutrients. They do this by changing their architecture, e.g. branch growth and direction, physiology, and phenotype. [39][40][41]
  • Leaves and branches being positioned and oriented in response to a light source. [39][42]
  • Detecting soil volume and adapting growth accordingly, independently of nutrient availability. [43][44][45] .

Plants do not have brains or neuronal networks like animals do however, reactions within signalling pathways may provide a biochemical basis for learning and memory in addition to computation and basic problem solving. [46] [47] Controversially, the brain is used as a metaphor in plant intelligence to provide an integrated view of signalling. [48]

Plants respond to environmental stimuli by movement and changes in morphology. They communicate while actively competing for resources. In addition, plants accurately compute their circumstances, use sophisticated cost–benefit analysis, and take tightly controlled actions to mitigate and control diverse environmental stressors. Plants are also capable of discriminating between positive and negative experiences and of learning by registering memories from their past experiences. [49] [50] [51] [52] [53] Plants use this information to adapt their behaviour in order to survive present and future challenges of their environments.

Plant physiology studies the role of signalling to integrate data obtained at the genetic, biochemical, cellular, and physiological levels, in order to understand plant development and behaviour. The neurobiological view sees plants as information-processing organisms with rather complex processes of communication occurring throughout the individual plant. It studies how environmental information is gathered, processed, integrated, and shared (sensory plant biology) to enable these adaptive and coordinated responses (plant behaviour) and how sensory perceptions and behavioural events are 'remembered' in order to allow predictions of future activities upon the basis of past experiences. Plants, it is claimed by some [ who? ] plant physiologists, are as sophisticated in behaviour as animals, but this sophistication has been masked by the time scales of plants' responses to stimuli, which are typically many orders of magnitude slower than those of animals. [ citation needed ]

It has been argued that although plants are capable of adaptation, it should not be called intelligence per se, as plant neurobiologists rely primarily on metaphors and analogies to argue that complex responses in plants can only be produced by intelligence. [54] "A bacterium can monitor its environment and instigate developmental processes appropriate to the prevailing circumstances, but is that intelligence? Such simple adaptation behaviour might be bacterial intelligence but is clearly not animal intelligence." [55] However, plant intelligence fits a definition of intelligence proposed by David Stenhouse in a book about evolution and animal intelligence, in which he describes it as "adaptively variable behaviour during the lifetime of the individual". [56] Critics of the concept have also argued that a plant cannot have goals once it is past the developmental stage of seedling because, as a modular organism, each module seeks its own survival goals and the resulting organism-level behavior is not centrally controlled. [55] This view, however, necessarily accommodates the possibility that a tree is a collection of individually intelligent modules cooperating, competing, and influencing each other to determine behavior in a bottom-up fashion. The development into a larger organism whose modules must deal with different environmental conditions and challenges is not universal across plant species, however, as smaller organisms might be subject to the same conditions across their bodies, at least, when the below and aboveground parts are considered separately. Moreover, the claim that central control of development is completely absent from plants is readily falsified by apical dominance. [ citation needed ]

The Italian botanist Federico Delpino wrote on the idea of plant intelligence in 1867. [57] Charles Darwin studied movement in plants and in 1880 published a book, The Power of Movement in Plants. Darwin concludes:

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the tip of the radicle thus endowed [..] acts like the brain of one of the lower animals the brain being situated within the anterior end of the body, receiving impressions from the sense-organs, and directing the several movements.

In 2020, Paco Calvo studied the dynamic of plant movements and investigated whether French beans deliberately aim for supporting structures. [58] Calvo said: “We see these signatures of complex behaviour, the one and only difference being is that it’s not neural-based, as it is in humans. This isn’t just adaptive behaviour, it’s anticipatory, goal-directed, flexible behaviour.” [59]

In philosophy, there are few studies of the implications of plant perception. Michael Marder put forth a phenomenology of plant life based on the physiology of plant perception. [60] Paco Calvo Garzon offers a philosophical take on plant perception based on the cognitive sciences and the computational modeling of consciousness. [61]

Comparison with neurobiology Edit

Plant sensory and response systems have been compared to the neurobiological processes of animals. Plant neurobiology concerns mostly the sensory adaptive behaviour of plants and plant electrophysiology. Indian scientist J. C. Bose is credited as the first person to research and talk about the neurobiology of plants. Many plant scientists and neuroscientists, however, view the term "plant neurobiology" as a misnomer, because plants do not have neurons. [54]

The ideas behind plant neurobiology were criticised in a 2007 article [54] published in Trends in Plant Science by Amedeo Alpi and 35 other scientists, including such eminent plant biologists as Gerd Jürgens, Ben Scheres, and Chris Sommerville. The breadth of fields of plant science represented by these researchers reflects the fact that the vast majority of the plant science research community rejects plant neurobiology as a legitimate notion. Their main arguments are that: [54]

  • "Plant neurobiology does not add to our understanding of plant physiology, plant cell biology or signaling".
  • "There is no evidence for structures such as neurons, synapses or a brain in plants".
  • The common occurrence of plasmodesmata in plants "poses a problem for signaling from an electrophysiological point of view", since extensive electrical coupling would preclude the need for any cell-to-cell transport of ‘neurotransmitter-like' compounds.

The authors call for an end to "superficial analogies and questionable extrapolations" if the concept of "plant neurobiology" is to benefit the research community. [54] Several responses to this criticism have attempted to clarify that the term "plant neurobiology" is a metaphor and that metaphors have proved useful on previous occasions. [62] [63] Plant ecophysiology describes this phenomenon.

Parallels in other taxa Edit

The concepts of plant perception, communication, and intelligence have parallels in other biological organisms for which such phenomena appear foreign to or incompatible with traditional understandings of biology, or have otherwise proven difficult to study or interpret. Similar mechanisms exist in bacterial cells, choanoflagellates, fungal hyphae, and sponges, among many other examples. All of these organisms, despite being devoid of a brain or nervous system, are capable of sensing their immediate and momentary environment and responding accordingly. In the case of unicellular life, the sensory pathways are even more primitive in the sense that they take place on the surface of a single cell, as opposed to within a network of many related cells.

Aerobic Respiration in Plants">Just like all animals including humans, plants need to respire otherwise they will die. It is important to note however that respiration is not breathing. Plants do not breath as we do.

1.0.1">">It is also important to note that respiration and photosynthesis are not the same things either. They are 2 separate processes, both used by plants to survive. Photosynthesis is used by plants to produce energy, whereas the respiration process breaks down the energy for use.">Here is the equation for photosynthesis: carbon dioxide + water → glucose + oxygen">As you can see the reactants and products of aerobic respiration and photosynthesis in plants are opposites:"> 1.0.8">


1.$9">Please help us out with your own comments and explanations on how plants release the energy!

How Do Plants Breathe?

Plants breathe using a system called respiration. They release carbon dioxide and take in oxygen from the air around them.

Plants, unlike other living things, can produce their own oxygen in a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the opposite of respiration. In photosynthesis, plants' carbon dioxide is absorbed by the plant and from that, oxygen is produced.

Plants respire all the time, day or night. However, they only photosynthesize during the day, when the sun is out. Every part of a plant breathes. It "inhales" oxygen through pores along the entire length of the plant, from the roots to the flowers. The roots get oxygen from air pockets in the surrounding soil. The plant "exhales" carbon dioxide the same way.

Certain plants produce more oxygen than others. Plants that produced high amounts of oxygen like the elodea canadenis are often used in ponds and aquariums because they do such a good job of oxygenating water.

Photosynthesis is an entirely different process than respiration. During photosynthesis, the chlorophyll, the pigment that makes plants green, captures energy from the sun and uses it along with carbon dioxide and water to make sugars. These sugars give the plant fuel to help it stay healthy and to grow.