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What is Photosynthesis?

Although seemingly simple in concept, the photosynthesis process is very complicated. Follow these links to articles that discuss photosynthesis at varying degrees of complexity. Also, jump to I Didn't Know That! A collection of brief factoids with links to more information.

Photosynthesis Online is a very large Website dedicated to "all things photosynthesis." it contains hundreds of links to many sites and is very useful to educators and students. If you need information, this the place to start. The following sites are a sample of what can be found on Photosynthesis Online.

Introduction to Photosynthesis and Its Applications -- A basic introduction to photosynthesis which explains many areas studied by photosynthesis researchers and highlights much of the work we do at the Photosynthesis Center. Written by Prof. Wim Vermaas from the Center for Bioenergy & Photosynthesis. [level: middle school and above]

Photosynthetic Antennas and Reaction Centers--a good introduction to some of the technical aspects of photosynthesis by Prof. Robert E. Blankenship from Washington University, St. Louis. (Written while he was here at the Center for Bioenergy & Photosynthesis). [level: undergraduate college]

Photosynthesis Online -- There is a lot of information out there on the web, maybe too much. This web paper does not attempt to list every one, only those that the authors consider to be among the best. Still, it lists hundreds of good sites with information on photosynthesis categorized by completeness, subject matter and educational level.

ASU Research: Catching some rays: Harnessing the power of photosynthesis --a cover story and related articles about what we do at the ASU Photosynthesis Center. [level: high school to undergraduate]

Photosynthesis--by M. J. Farabee. An excellent introduction to the entire photosynthetic process. [level: high school to undergraduate]

The Photosynthetic Process--a good review of photosynthesis by John Whitmarsh and Govindjee from the University of Illinois [level: high school to undergraduate]

Why Do Leaves Turn Color in Fall?--From Science Made Simple, an excellent source of science information for elementary through middle school children (and their parents!). Includes some easy experiments/demonstrations. [level: elementary through middle school]

Photosynthesis: Don't "Leaf" Out Fall's Most Valuable Lesson! from Education World also discusses photosynthesis and fall leaves. [level: elementary through middle school]

Newton's Apple TV program on Photosynthesis--some very basic definitions and projects [level: elementary through middle school]

Photosynthetic Pigments--why plants are green and other colors, from the University of California Museum of Paleontology [level: elementary through college]

Using photosynthesis in a high school biology class--a section of the National Science Education Standards from the National Academy of Sciences showing how photosynthesis can be used to teach the scientific method and show the development of scientific knowledge. [level: high school]

Photosynthetic Pictures--Are Worth More Than a Thousand Words--a good classroom guide to preparing starch photos. [level: high school]

How Plants Cope with Desert Climate from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum--explains how plants in desert areas use a special photosynthetic adaptation called CAM. [level: all ages]

Light Harvesting in Bacterial Photosynthesis--from the Theoretical Biophysics Group at the University of Illinois, Urbana: very good up-to-date coverage of the topic and many excellent figures. [level: undergraduate college]

Introduction to Cyanobacteria--from UC Berkeley: an introduction to some very important bacteria and includes information about cyanobacterial fossils. [level: high school to undergraduate]

The bc1 Complex Home Page--from Tony Crofts' lab at the University of Illinois. Contains numerous links to illustrations and other labs studying the bc1 complex. [level: high school to undergraduate college]

Field Photosynthesis Measurement Systems --a group from New Mexico State University shows how instruments are used to measure photosynthesis rates outdoors in nature. [level: high school to undergraduate college]

Chlorophyll Fluorescence--from Opti-Sciences, a manufacturer of fluorometers. [level: undergraduate college]




I Didn't Know That!

Links to brief bits of information and amazing facts about photosynthesis and related topics.

There's something corny about oxygen
"An average hectare of corn produces enough oxygen per hectare per day in mid summer to meet the respiratory needs of about 325 people. This means that the one million or so hectares of corn grown in Ontario produce enough oxygen for the annual respiratory needs of Ontario's 10 million residents in about 11 summer days!" From: Corn and Photosynthesis (obsolete web page).

News from the underground
"Scientists have recently discovered microorganisms living within igneous formations -- extremely hard rock lacking organic nutrients. The industrious residents of these rocks fashion their own organic molecules out of the barest of inorganic materials. Relying only on hydrogen, water, and carbon dioxide -- all of which are products of Earth's interior --these microbes are unique among the vast array of living species. All other organisms depend to some extent on the sun's energy, which is harnessed through photosynthesis and creates food for surface life. Even organisms living near seafloor vents rely indirectly on the oxygen supplied by photosynthesis, says Todd O. Stevens of Battelle." From: Deep Dwellers: Microbes Thrive Far Below Ground (Science News, 151: 192-193--not all life needs photosynthesis, but the exceptions are pretty amazing!

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