Oxygen is a gas that is needed by most forms of life to break down various compounds. Even though plants are able to produce oxygen through photosynthesis, they also have to absorb oxygen to use many of the nutrients that have been absorbed through a process called respiration. Respiration is a process by which cells release energy through a variety of chemical reactions involving the transfer of electrons. Various factors both in the plant and in the environment affect the plant's amount of respiration.
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The amount of oxygen that aquatic plants consume increases when more oxygen is dissolved into the water, according to Hydrobiolgia. An increase in temperature also increases the rates of oxygen consumption by plants.
Plants that have a larger amount of nutrients will engage in more respiration. Respiration is needed to use many of these nutrients, including the lipids consumed by the plants, according to Tutor Vista.
Certain parts of the plant will engage in more respiration than others. Parts of the plant that engage in activities that require a lot of energy, such as leaves and root tips, will require more oxygen, according to Tutor Vista. Parts of the plant that require less energy, such as the plant's seeds, will engage in less respiration.
Plants use respiration to use the energy that is stored in their sugars that they created through the process of photosynthesis, according to McGraw Hill. To be able to engage in respiration, the plants have to have already created sugar through photosynthesis to be able to use the sugars through respiration.
Respiration is especially common when a plant is growing before it has the leaves to engage in photosynthesis. For example, seeds contain sugars that fuel the plant to grow before it has the leaves and chlorophyll needed to make more sugar, according to McGraw Hill. The seeds must absorb oxygen to be able to make use of the sugar. Fortunately for the plants, respiration does not require light, so the plant can grow underground until it finally sprouts out of the ground. However, the seeds must have enough sugar to grow all the way to the surface.
Global warming has lead to an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Many might think that the increased carbon dioxide benefits plants because they use carbon dioxide to make food, according to the New Phytologist Symposium. But given their need to breath oxygen to use their stored sugars, carbon dioxide reduces the amount of oxygen in the air, which can negatively affect plant respiration.
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