Plants don't follow all rules during respiration: This could be a permanent solution to environmental problems after all

Fareeha Arshad
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Usually, plants take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen – in a process called photosynthesis. The byproducts of this reaction are then used during respiration in plants. However, recently, scientists have discovered an unknown metabolic pathway in plants that help them to ‘choose’ whether or not they want to release carbon dioxide back into the air instead of consuming it.

According to a recent article published on ‘Science Alert’, plants can control the process of respiration and decide how much carbon dioxide they need to compensate for their demands.

Sugar (sucrose) is produced during the photosynthesis process in plants. Usually, plants make more sucrose than needed – some of which are stored for later usage while the rest are broken down to simpler molecules. This happens during the citric acid cycle in plants. The breakdown happens when sucrose is broken down to glucose, which is further broken down to form pyruvate.

When pyruvate is used as the energy source, more carbon dioxide is released as a byproduct, and it is at this step the plant decides whether or not it has to release the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere or keep it for further use. This discovery was made by the researchers of the University of Western Australia.

The scientists discovered that the plant utilizes pyruvate derived from different sources differently. That is, plants can figure out from where the pyruvate was derived and decide accordingly whether or not they have to keep the biomolecules or release them. According to the researchers, this significant discovery could perhaps aid in bettering environmental health by helping to store more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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