CO2 Part IV - Part IV : CO2 The Finale (For now) We have...

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Part IV : CO 2 The Finale (For now) We have seen that CO 2 can be reduced by plants to carbohydrates in the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a remarkable and exquisite process, the details of which are still being unraveled. However much progress towards understanding it has come as a result of laborious studies over the last 40 years. Indeed, one of the world experts on the process, who has made highly important contributions to understanding the chemistry of photosynthesis, is Prof. Charles Yocum of the UM Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. (I will try to get a lecture from him for this class during the term.) A common expression for something that seems to proceed slowly is that it is “like watching grass grow”. This pithy remark is rendered more understandable at the molecular level since it is now known that it takes eight photons to reduce one molecule of CO 2 to carbohydrate and release one molecule of O 2 . Dark adapted green plant matter requires four flashes of light before one O 2 molecule is released, and four photons are required for each half reaction, carried out by each of two photosystems, and this light must be of sufficient energy to carry out the charge separation, and subsequent chemical processes, shown in our half reactions written earlier. This is only one of the ways in which the photosynthetic process is unique. Indeed, the photosynthetic process has proven remarkably difficult to emulate by synthetic chemical processes in spite of concerted efforts over many years. The overall efficiency of photosynthesis has been nicely described by W. Gebbhardt, a physicist, who used an approach particularly well suited to make
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CO2 Part IV - Part IV : CO2 The Finale (For now) We have...

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