Breathing plants

The respiration of plants

Plants are living beings characterized by a life cycle. They are born, grow, reproduce and die. The main function of plants is chlorophyll photosynthesis, by which they produce glucose, starting from water and carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen in the form of gas. Photosynthesis takes place in the leaves and in all the green parts of the plant, by the action of chlorophyll which, by capturing the solar energy, allows the production of organic substances, mainly carbohydrates. Photosynthesis occurs inside green corpuscles, the chloroplasts, in the presence of light. In the absence of light, but also during the day, the reverse process of photosynthesis, plant respiration or cellular respiration takes place in every cell of plants . The respiration of plantsoccurs in the mitochondria in the presence of oxygen. During respiration the organic molecules are destroyed to release the energy accumulated in the molecular bonds. This energy is necessary for plants to perform all its functions, at the same time carbon dioxide and water are released in the form of gas.

Functions of plants

Plants are of fundamental importance for the survival of life on planet Earth. They represent the primary resource of food for humans and animals, transforming the “inorganic” substance into “organic”, managing the flow of solar energy through the food, constituting the first link in the “food chain”. Plants are “autotrophic” organisms that is able to procure the organic substances they need to carry out their vital functions, directly starting from carbon dioxide and water. Animals are “heterotrophic”, they feed directly or indirectly on plants. In the environment, plants represent an irreplaceable resource, with chlorophyll photosynthesis they release oxygen into the air, filtering pollutants; with transpiration they help regulate atmospheric humidity and microclimate; with their roots they protect the soil from landslides and landslides; they represent a habitat for many animal species, they produce wood, food, medicines, fabrics, cosmetics, and with their flowers they perfume the environment. The great variety of plants characterizes the terrestrial environments from the landscape point of view.


Botany is that branch of Biology that studies the plant world in all its aspects, includes scientific disciplines that deal with the growth, metabolism, development, diseases and evolution of plants. Botany includes Taxonomy (classification of plants), Anatomy (structure of plants) and Physiology (functions of the plant). The study of plant cells has contributed to the discovery of the functioning and basic mechanisms of biological processes (reproduction, protein synthesis, transmission of hereditary characters). The study of plants allows us to understand the evolution of the environment; the presence of particular plants (lichens) represents an indicator of environmental pollution; the study of fossil pollen gives information on the climate of past times and predictions about the future. In the past, plants were studied, selected and cataloged mainly for their medicinal use. The first botanist who studied a method for the classification of plants on a scientific basis was Carlo Linneo, with the introduction of the concept of “species”.

Plant respiration: Evolution of plants

The appearance of the first photosynthetic cells, capable of transforming the energy of the Sun into chemical energy, has allowed the development of life on Earth. Photosynthesis enriched the primordial atmosphere with oxygen, favoring the survival of the first animal and plant species that appeared on the changing planet. The first plant forms to appear on Earth were algae, which developed in the water. Subsequently the algae transformed, colonizing the mainland and transforming itself into the great variety of plants that have come down to the present day. Land plants have had to adapt to living in arid, water-poor environments. They have developed protection mechanisms against drying, thicker and thicker trunks, reduction of the leaf surface and transformation into thorns (in deserts), waxy coating of the parts most exposed to the sun, deeper and deeper roots. Today, plants literally dominate the Earth. Their mass represents 90% of the total mass of all living beings on our planet and they are crucial for the maintenance of life. They are a precious asset to be preserved.

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