Introducing Photosynthesis: What is Photosynthesis?
Animals and plants both synthesize fats and proteins from carbohydrates; thus glucose is a basic energy source for all living organisms. The oxygen released, with water vapor in transpiration, as a photosynthetic byproduct, principally of phytoplankton, provides most of the atmospheric oxygen vital to respiration in plants and animals, and animals in turn produce carbon dioxide necessary to plants. Photosynthesis can therefore be considered the ultimate source of life for nearly all plants and animals by providing the source of energy that drives all their metabolic processes.
The discovery of photosynthesis in cells began with the findings of Joseph Priestly. Joseph Priestly, a chemist and minister, discovered that when he isolated a volume of air under an inverted jar, and burned a candle in it, the candle would burn out very quickly, much before it ran out of wax. He further discovered that a mouse could similarly "injure" air. He then showed that the air that had been "injured" by the candle and the mouse could be restored by a plant. In 1778, Jan Ingenhousz, court physician to the Austrian Empress, repeated Priestly's experiments. He discovered that it was the influence of sun and light on the plant that could cause it to rescue a mouse in a matter of hours.
In 1796, Jean Senebier, a French pastor, showed that Carbon Dioxide was the "fixed" or "injured" air and that plants in photosynthesis took it up. Soon afterwards, Theodore de Saussure showed that the increase in mass of the plant as it grows could not be due only to uptake of CO2, but also to the incorporation of water.
Photosynthesis is a process in which green plants use energy from the sun to transform water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into oxygen and organic compounds. Photosynthesis, if translated, would mean "putting together with light . Photosynthesis is one example of how people and