Photosynthesis is the miracle of design. Humans rely on this design, for our own energy. Every animal relies on the energy from this simple reaction. Sugars power us to everything we are. Photosynthesis. Join me as we dive into the beauty of the miracle that helps so many living things alive and well.
Prior to this point, I hadn't learned much new information from Biology class this year. I did learn brand new, the full idea of the process of photosynthesis. Almost everyone knows the simple take water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight and combine them to get glucose and oxygen. Most of the time many people know only that. They think it's like making a milkshake, toss all the ingredients in a blender and viola, you have your very own glucose. It isn't that simple.
Leaves are the most important part of a plant needed for photosynthesis (DUH). Leaves are designed in such a way in order to create the most glucose possible. The diagrams for a cross section of a leaf look kinda tacky, but show to truly remarkable these organisms are. There are thin layers of a waxy material on both sides of a leaf, called cuticles, in order to prevent water loss. The next layer is called the epidermis. Similar to the human epidermis, the plant version is meant to protect the leaf from the outside. Right below that are the Palisade Mesophyll. This region of cells does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to absorbing the energy from the sun. These cells are loaded with chloroplasts. Chloroplasts are what make this work to perfection. These organelles are loaded to absorb light from the sun to convert into energy to create glucose. This pigment does especially well with red and blue light, but cannot do well with green light, hence why it looks green to the human eye. Below the palisade layer is the spongy mesophyll. This is kinda like the safety on defense in football, preventing extra energy from escaping for a touchdown. The spongy mesophyll captures any light energy that gets past the palisades, and has the added bonus of the air space around them, allowing for gases to be exchanged from cell to cell. Inside this spongy layer we also find the vein of the leaf. This vein contains xylem and phloem. Phloem brings in water from the roots, whereas xylem takes the sugars produced by the leaves into other parts of the plant to be used for energy. These veins help to make plants grow taller and stronger. The air spaces inside the spongy layer are meant to pass gases around, but how do they get there? Through the stomata. Stomata (singular stoma) bring in gases and water through pores on the bottom of a leaf. These openings are controlled by guard cells, who expand or contract depending on the needs of the plant. All of these parts work together to create sugars for them to use, and in turn create sugars for others as well.
So why is it a miracle? Plants have been had their own solar panels forever. We, as humans, learned to create solar panels by studying plants. They are a food source to humans as well as other animals. If not for this simple procedure the plants do, the world would be a very different place.