Using Light Energy to Make Organic Molecules

Section Summary

Using the energy carriers formed in the first steps of photosynthesis, the light-independent reactions, or the Calvin cycle, take in CO2 from the atmosphere. An enzyme, RuBisCO, catalyzes a reaction with CO2 and another organic compound, RuBP. After three cycles, a three-carbon molecule of G3P leaves the cycle to become part of a carbohydrate molecule. The remaining G3P molecules stay in the cycle to be regenerated into RuBP, which is then ready to react with more CO2. Photosynthesis forms an energy cycle with the process of cellular respiration. Because plants contain both chloroplasts and mitochondria, they rely upon both photosynthesis and respiration for their ability to function in both the light and dark, and to be able to interconvert essential metabolites.