17.9: Aerobic Respiration - Biology

17.9: Aerobic Respiration - Biology

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Lab Objectives

At the conclusion of the lab, the student should be able to:

  • define the following terms: fermentation, anaerobic respiration, germination, aerobic respiration
  • list the organelle in eukaryotic cells responsible for generating the greatest number of ATP molecules during aerobic respiration
  • list 2 examples of fermentation pathways
  • give the reactants and products for the overall equation of anaerobic fermentation
  • give the reactants and products for the overall equation of aerobic cellular respiration
  • explain the fundamental differences between fermentation (anaerobic respiration) and cellular respiration (aerobic respiration)
  • explain why we used an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations to indicate cellular respiration took place

Things you should be able to explain to someone else after this lab:

  • Aerobic respiration
  • Anaerobic respiration
  • Fermentation


A SlideShare element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here:


All living things require energy. The energy carrying molecule of the cell is ATP, or adenosine tri-phosphate. ATP is a nucleic acid. ATP releases energy when one of the three phosphates is removed forming the molecule ADP. Through the process of aerobic respiration, living things break down glucose to create ATP. The equation for aerobic respiration is shown below. Notice that along with glucose oxygen is a substrate of aerobic respiration.

C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6H2O + 6CO2 + ATP

Aerobic respiration is the most efficient way to create energy in cells but it is not the only option. Anaerobic respiration is a simpler process that does not require oxygen. However, anaerobic respiration does not produce as many ATP. Fermentation is one type of anaerobic respiration. Lactic acid fermentation is used by some bacterial species for ATP production. Alcoholic fermentation is a process that takes place in yeast cells. You might be familiar with some of the products created through alcoholic fermentation such as beer, wine, and bread.

Today you will investigate aerobic respiration in insects comparing pill bugs and bean beetles. As animals, insects undergo aerobic respiration to create the ATP needed for processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and movement. You will track aerobic respiration using a carbon dioxide sensor.

If aerobic respiration is occurring will there be an increase or a decrease in carbon dioxide concentration?


  1. Observe the pill bugs and bean beetles available for the experiment. Do they differ in size? Which one is larger and which one is smaller?
  2. Do you think size of the insect will influence aerobic respiration? With your group, create a hypothesis about how the size of the insect will affect aerobic respiration as measured through carbon dioxide concentration. Make sure that your hypothesis is a testable statement.
  3. Plug the lab quest computer in using the electrical cord. Turn on the computer.
  4. Attach the carbon dioxide sensor to the lab quest. Make sure the switch on the sensor is set to “low.”
  5. Make sure that the computer is set to record data for 600 seconds (upper right corner). If you need to change the time tap on “length” on the computer screen.
  6. Obtain 5 bean beetles and place them into your respiration chamber.
  7. Insert the carbon dioxide sensor into the opening of the respiration chamber. Make sure it is a tight fit but do not force it.
  8. Wait 2 minutes (to allow the chamber to equilibrate) and click on the green arrow button on the bottom left corner of the computer screen to begin recording data. The data will continuously record and automatically stop after 10 minutes.
  9. During the data collection, make observations regarding the behavior of the insect. Record any important observations on the next page.
  10. Once data collection is complete, a graph of carbon dioxide concentration verses time will be visible on the computer screen. The slope of this line indicates the rate of respiration
  11. To determine the slope of this line:
    1. Click on the analyze menu (top of the screen) and select “curve fit”
    2. On the next screen scroll down fit equation and choose “linear.”
    3. The equation of the line will be displayed on the screen. Record the m value (slope) in your data table.
    4. Select OK
  12. Repeat the experiment two more times with the bean beetles. At the end of each 10 minute trial record the m value in the data table.
  13. Remove the bean beetles from the respiration chamber and put them back in their original container.
  14. Repeat steps 6-13 using pill bugs and record your results in the data table and your observations below. Make sure you conduct three replicate trials with the pill bugs.
  15. Once you have completed the experiment please rinse out the respiration chamber, unplug the equipment and return it to the case.


Record your observations of the bean beetles.

Record your observations of the pill bugs.

Table 1. Rate of respiration of Bean beetles
Bean beetleRate of Respiration
Trial 1
Trial 2
Trial 3
Table 2: Rate of respiration of pill bugs
Pill BugsRate of Respiration
Trial 1
Trial 2
Trial 3


  1. Do your results support your hypothesis? Explain why or why not.
  2. How does the size of the insect impact aerobic respiration?
  3. What evidence do you have that cellular respiration occurred?
  4. Identify one potential source of error in your experiment.
  5. Describe a possible follow up experiment you could conduct based on your findings.

Respiration: Grade 9 Understanding for IGCSE Biology 2.34 2.36 2.37 2.38

I can’t believe that it is over year since I started posting about iGCSE Biology misconceptions and yet I have never written about Respiration. If there is one topic that students misunderstand more than any other (apart perhaps from genetics), this must be it…. So I am going to try to explain in a straightforward way what respiration is and why it is so important for life.

Life requires energy. Living cells are constantly doing things that use up energy: pumping molecules across their cell membranes, moving organelles around the cell, cell division, nerve cells sending electrical impulses around the body, muscle fibres contracting etc. etc. In every case, this energy comes from a metabolic process called Respiration. It is a series of chemical reactions, catalysed by enzymes and in some way, it happens in all cells.

So let’s start with a good definition. [Examiners are simple souls and often start questions with the classic “What is Respiration?”]

Respiration is a series of chemical reactions that happens inside cells in which food molecules (for example glucose) are oxidised to release energy for the cell.

My definition has to be a little vague because although glucose is found in all the equations for respiration, other food molecules can certainly be respired. And oxygen is only used in aerobic respiration. Many organisms can only respire without oxygen (anaerobic respiration) and some, such as humans can switch between aerobic and anaerobic depending on the conditions.

Aerobic Respiration happens for the most part in tiny organelles in the cytoplasm called Mitochondria. The diagram above shows the structure of a mitochondrion (I wouldn’t worry about learning it but perhaps you should be able to recognise the characteristically folded inner membrane?)

What are the differences between aerobic and anaerobic respiration in humans?

Well we have mentioned two already and there are others….

  • Aerobic respiration requires oxygen, anaerobic does not.
  • Aerobic respiration takes place in mitochondria, anaerobic only occurs in the cytoplasm.
  • Aerobic respiration produces much more energy per glucose molecule than anaerobic – it is a more complete oxidation of the glucose, so much more energy is released.
  • Anaerobic respiration produces lactic acid as a waste product (in humans) whereas in aerobic, carbon dioxide and water are the products

The summary equations for the processes are different as well.

Aerobic respiration:

word equation Glucose + Oxygen ——> Carbon Dioxide + Water

Anaerobic respiration in humans:

Anaerobic respiration in Yeast (a single celled fungus):

Glucose —–> Ethanol and Carbon Dioxide

A couple of final points to note:

Anaerobic respiration in muscle cells does not produce carbon dioxide as a waste product (see the equation above…) Lactic acid is the only waste product. But lactic acid will accumulate in muscles and stop the muscle functioning properly so after a period of intense activity, lactic acid needs to be removed. How does this happen?

Lactic acid moves from the muscle in the blood and is transported to the liver. In the liver, the lactic acid is metabolised in an aerobic pathway that uses oxygen. This is why sprinters will always be breathing fast after the race, even when they are standing still. Their body needs extra oxygen to oxidise the lactic acid they have produced during the race. This extra oxygen is termed an oxygen debt and is the oxygen needed in the liver to fully oxidise lactic acid to carbon dioxide and water.

Finally, respiration is not the same as breathing. Our American cousins sometimes muddle these processes up but in this one case, the British way is much better…. Use the term ventilation for breathing – moving air in and out of the lungs – and reserve respiration for the chemical reactions that happen inside the cells to release energy.

Please leave a comment below if you find this post helpful or ask me about anything that isn’t clear….

Aerobic Respiration

Aerobic respiration requires oxygen. This is the reason why we breathe oxygen in from the air. This type of respiration releases a large amount of energy from glucose that can be stored as ATP. Aerobic respiration happens all the time in animals and plants, where most of the reactions occur in the mitochondria. Even some prokaryotes can perform aerobic respiration (although since prokaryotes don’t contain mitochondria, the reactions are slightly different). The overall chemical formula for aerobic respiration can be written as:

Translating that formula into English: One molecule of glucose can be broken down in the presence of oxygen gas to produce waste products of carbon dioxide (which we breathe out) and water. This process has an overall release of energy which is captured and stored in 38 molecules of ATP.

Aerobic respiration is a complex process that can be divided into three basic stages: glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation. The next several sections in the textbook address the details of these stages, but here is a basic summary:

  • During glycolysis, 6-carbon glucose is broken in half and a small amount of energy is transferred to ATP and other energy carrier molecules.
  • One carbon atom is broken off of each of the two halves of the glucose molecule (3-carbon molecules known as pyruvate) and released as carbon dioxide. This leaves two 2-carbon molecules called acetyls, which are attached to Coenzyme A to make acetyl-CoA.
  • Acetyl-CoA enters the citric acid cycle, where it is completely broken down into carbon dioxide and all the energy from the molecule is transferred to ATP and other energy carrier molecules. The carbon atoms are released as carbon dioxide.
  • The energy carrier molecules produced during glycolysis and the citric acid cycle are used to power the electron transport chain and chemiosmosis (together known as oxidative phosphorylation). The end result of this is the majority of ATP produced during aerobic respiration.

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Education Level



Aerobic cellular respiration is the process of converting the chemical energy of organic molecules into a form immediately usable by organisms. Glucose may be oxidized completely if sufficient oxygen is available, by the following reaction:

All organisms, including plants and animals, oxidize glucose for energy. Often, this energy is used to convert ADP and phosphate into ATP. In this experiment, the rate of cellular respiration will be measured by monitoring the consumption of oxygen gas.

Many environmental variables might affect the rate of aerobic cellular respiration. Temperature changes have profound effects upon living things. Enzyme-catalyzed reactions are especially sensitive to small changes in temperature. Because of this, the metabolism of ectotherms, organisms whose internal body temperature is determined by their surroundings, are often determined by the surrounding temperature. In this experiment, you will determine the effect temperature changes have on the aerobic respiration of yeast.


In this experiment, you will

  • Measure changes in dissolved oxygen concentration.
  • Study the effect of temperature on cellular respiration.
  • Make a plot of the rate of cellular respiration as a function of temperature.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.

Option 1

Option 2

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Watch the video: AEM 341 Exam III Aerobic Respiration Biochemical Reaction (August 2022).