Written by Thomas Godwin
Updated: May 2, 2023
Image Credit © lzf/


Photosynthesis is a major step in a plant’s ability to derive nutrients from food sources. It’s a combination method in which plants take sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide and utilize all three to create both energy and oxygen. The plant maintains the energy while releasing the converted oxygen back into the air.

In-Depth Photosynthesis Process

Of course, the process is much more extensive than the above-amended description. Photosynthesis is an ongoing, complicated process, without which, plants could not survive. Without plants, nothing else could survive either, making it a vital component in a plant’s life cycle.

Plants get everything they need from the sun, the soil, and the air around them. They draw in carbon dioxide from the air and water through the soil and immediately begin breaking them both down. Plants start by “oxidizing” the water while adding electrons to the carbon dioxide.

The water converts to oxygen, which the plant emits back into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide converts to sugar in the form of glucose. This glucose is used to provide the plant with the energy it needs to survive and grow.

Plants don’t just derive their energy needs from the water they convert into glucose. They also harness the energy of the sun. Chloroplasts, a pigment material within all plants, capture and store energy from the sun. This pigment is green in color, which is why the majority of plants are a variety of green colors.

These chloroplasts capture blue and red light waves, while they reflect the green waves. Plants convert the red and blue light waves into two molecules—ATP and NADPH. These molecules are used as fuel in the previous water and carbon dioxide conversion process.

The formulas for the process of photosynthesis are enormously complex and there are multiple types of photosynthesis to contend with as well. There is the above-described process, which is C3 Photosynthesis, and there is also C4.

C4 Photosynthesis

The vast majority of the plants on Earth utilize the C3 photosynthesis process. The remaining plants use C4 photosynthesis. The plants that use C4 photosynthesis—sorghum, maize, sugarcane, etc—typically grow in very hot environments, necessitating a different form of photosynthesis to mitigate the damage from excessive heat and oppressive levels of sunlight.

C4 photosynthesis plants use an enzyme known as PEP within the process. This enzyme minimizes the above-mentioned damage and losses from heat and sun while facilitating the standard procedure. Instead of converting carbon dioxide into glucose, PEP instead converts it into malate.

The malate is recycled into PEP by another enzyme known as rubisco, which continues the process of photosynthesis, ultimately converting the carbon dioxide into sugars. This process avoids the excessive involvement of oxygen, which is the lone factor that minimizes damage from heat and sun.

Photosynthesis Pronunciation

Photosynthesis is pronounced: “foh – toh -sin – thuh -sis

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About the Author

Thomas is a freelance writer with an affinity for the great outdoors and Doberman Pinschers. When he's not sitting behind the computer, pounding out stories on black bears and reindeer, he's spending time with his family, two Dobermans (Ares and Athena), and a Ragdoll cat named Heimdal. He also tends his Appleyard Ducks and a variety of overly curious and occasionally vexatious chickens.