Gas Exchange In Plants

Categories: Photosynthesis and respiration; physiology

Gas exchange is the process whereby water vapor and oxygen leave and carbon dioxide enters plant leaves. The gaseous balance in plants is quite complex because plant cells carry on both respiration and photosynthesis.

All living organisms continually produce gases via metabolic and cellular activities, and the vast majority of living things are in one way or another in intimate contact with a gaseous medium. In most instances, therefore, there is ample opportunity for all organisms to exchange gases with the environment. The gaseous balance in plants is quite complex because plant cells carry on both respiration and photosynthesis. Plants respire in much the same way as animals; oxygen is used to oxidize carbohydrates, and carbon dioxide and water are produced as waste products. The photosynthetic process requires an input of carbon dioxide and water. These two reactants are used to produce carbohydrates, and oxygen is released as a waste product. Under normal conditions, photosynthetic rates are higher than respiration rates; thus, there is a net increase in oxygen production, accompanied by a net increase in the usage of carbon dioxide. On balance, therefore, plants use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.

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