Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Oxygen Level and Photosynthesis
Name: Shelley
Status: educator
Grade: K-3
Location: MO
Country: USA
Date: Summer 2009

Question:
Does a decrease in the amount of oxygen in the air lead to a lower rate of photosynthesis in a plant?



Replies:
Since photosynthesis consumes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (or sea water) to produce sugars and oxygen, a low level of oxygen in the atmosphere certainly will not slow down photosynthesis. A very high level of oxygen may inhibit the photosynthesis reaction if the pressure of oxygen outside is such that the plant has difficulty in getting rid of its 'waste' oxygen.

Farmers growing in greenhouse atmospheres have found that they can increase the rate of photosynthesis, and make plants grow faster if they increase levels of carbon dioxide within the greenhouse. To achieve this, some farmers have attached feedlines to capture CO2 from furnaces or incinerators or even from diesel generators and pump it into the greenhouses. Even ordinary greenhouses need to be ventilated to prevent the depletion of CO2 which can lead to growth slowing.

Nigel Skelton
Tennant Creek High School
AUSTRALIA


Yes, usually although there are exceptions. The following should be helpful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis

http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/61/2/159

Anthony Brach Ph.D.


One of the terms you may look up is photorespiration. This is the process many plants use when oxygen availability is low. It slows down, but does not completely stop sugar production.

Steve Sample



Click here to return to the Botany Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory