Using Light Energy to Make Organic Molecules

After the energy from the sun is converted into chemical energy and temporarily stored in ATP and NADPH molecules, the cell has the fuel needed to build carbohydrate molecules for long-term energy storage. The products of the light-dependent reactions, ATP and NADPH, have lifespans in the range of millionths of seconds, whereas the products of the light-independent reactions (carbohydrates and other forms of reduced carbon) can survive almost indefinitely. The carbohydrate molecules made will have a backbone of carbon atoms. But where does the carbon come from? It comes from carbon dioxide—the gas that is a waste product of respiration in microbes, fungi, plants, and animals.