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Determining The Effect Of Light Intensity On Photosynthesis

2519 words - 10 pages

Determining the Effect of Light Intensity on Photosynthesis


In this experiment, I intend to alter the light intensity and measure
its effect on photosynthesis through the production of oxygen


Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants provide a source
of energy for respiration. The formula is as follows-

Carbon dioxide + water

Carbon dioxide and water are chemically combined to produce glucose
(the energy source) and oxygen (a waste product).

Since it is impossible to measure the uptake of carbon dioxide in
school laboratory conditions and water uptake is not an accurate
measure of photosynthesis due to the loss of water through the stomata
in transpiration, I will need to measure the products in order to have
an idea of the rate of photosynthesis. Glucose is stored within the
plant and is therefore not a feasible way of measuring photosynthetic
rate. However oxygen is released as a waste gas through the stomata
(pores located mostly on the underside of the leaves) and can be
collected and measured. I will use this information to formulate my

Other factors to consider

As the equation for photosynthesis shows, both carbon dioxide and
water can be limiting factors, i.e. if they are not present in
sufficient quantities, they will slow the rate of photosynthesis.
However, the chemical equation does not show four other important
factors, which will need to be taken into account. These are as

1. The reaction is endothermic. This means it takes energy from the
surroundings in order to provide the activation energy for the
reaction. The energy that is taken in during photosynthesis is light,
normally provided by the sun.

2. The reaction is dependant on several enzymes. These are biological
catalysts which speed up the rates of reaction. All enzymes are
temperature dependant and can be denatured at high temperatures. This
is where there shape is altered and they are no longer able to
catalyses the reaction. However, up to this point they follow the
normal rules of Kinetic Theory (the reaction rate increases with

3. Enzymes are also pH dependant- they all have optimum pH levels in
which they work most efficiently. Changing the pH either way can alter
the bonds within the enzyme molecule and therefore alter its shape and
ability to function.

4. Finally, photosynthesis is dependant on chlorophyll, a green
pigment within the chloroplasts of plants, found in large quantities
in the palisade layer of the leaf. The overall ability of a plant to
photosynthesise is dependent on the rate at which carbon dioxide and
water can be combined within the chloroplasts. Assuming that water,
carbon dioxide and energy (light) are not limiting factors, the plant
will reach a maximum rate of photosynthesis,...

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