Comparison of the Phenomenon of Respiration in Plants and Animals

Written by noelle carver
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Comparison of the Phenomenon of Respiration in Plants and Animals
Plants and animals breathe using respiratory mechanisms. (animals image by TEMISTOCLE LUCARELLI from

All plants and animals need to take in oxygen. Respiration is a natural energy-producing process in plants and animals. In animals, respiration transports oxygen from the air to the cells within the animal's tissues and releases carbon dioxide from the body. In cellular respiration in plants, the cells oxidise glucose and release oxygen.

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Plant Respiration

Respiration in plants is considered controlled oxidation. It is a passive process, which means the "breathing" occurs on a cellular level, not by active muscular movements. Cellular respiration allows organisms to release energy stored in the chemical bonds of glucose (C6H12O6), a kind of sugar.

Plant Breathing Mechanisms

Plants mainly breathe through pores in their leaves called stomata. It is similar to how humans perspire through the skin. Plants take in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, which is why humans depend on trees and other plants for the air we breathe.


Plant and animal respiration, on the cellular level, occurs inside the cell's mitochondria, which are powerhouses of energy. A membrane-bound organelle, or miniature organ with a specific function inside the cell, mitochondria burn sugar for fuel in the cellular respiration process. All eukaryotes -- plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms -- act out cellular respiration in the mitochondria.

Animals Lungs and Windpipes

Respiration for animals is an active process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. Animals -- including all mammals and humans -- breathe through the lungs. The windpipe transports air from the nostrils to the lungs. Oxygen moves into and out of the lungs, from which it is distributed to the blood cells. Carbon dioxide -- oxygen waste -- passes outside the blood and back into the air when an animal or human exhales.

Animals & Plants

In respiration, plants and animals convert the sugars back into energy for growth and other life processes. Humans take up oxygen through their lungs, while plants take up oxygen through leaf pores and up through their roots. In photosynthesis, plants store energy captured during the day from the sun's light, like solar panels, and create glucose, their energy source, mainly at night. Photosynthesis, a major part of plant respiration, depends on the presence of water, light and carbon dioxide.

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