NUTRITION IN PLANTS AND ANIMALS - KCSE BIOLOGY NOTES, SCHEMES OF WORK, OBJECTIVES, QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Structure of the Leaf
The external structure of the leaf consists of a leaf stalk or petiole and a broad leaf blade or lamina.
The lamina has a main vein midrib from which smaller veins originate.
The outline of the leaf is the margin and the tip forms the apex.
Internal Structure of the Leaf
This is the outer layer of cells, normally one cell thick.
It is found in both the upper and lower leaf surfaces.
The cells are arranged end to end.
The epidermis offers protection and maintains the shape of the leaf.
It is covered by a layer of cuticle which reduces evaporation.
Consists of the palisade layer, next to upper epidermis, and the spongy layer next to the lower epidermis.
Palisade Mesophyll Layer
The cells are elongated and arranged close to each other leaving narrow air spaces.
These contain numerous chloroplasts and are the main photosynthetic cells.
In most plants, the chloroplast are distributed fairly uniformly throughout the cytoplasm.
In certain plants growing in shaded habitats in dim light, most chloroplasts migrate to the upper region of the palisade cells in order to maximize absorption of the limited light available.
Spongy Mesophyll Layer
The cells are spherical in shape.
They are loosely arranged, with large intercellular spaces between them.
The spaces are air-filled and are linked to the stomatal pores.
The spongy mesophyll cells have fewer chloroplasts than the palisade mesophyll cells.
These are made up of the xylem and the phloem tissues.
The xylem transports water and mineral salts to the leaves.
The phloem transports food manufactured in the leaf to the other parts of the plant and from storage organs to other parts.
Adaptations of Leaf for Photosynthesis
Presence of veins with vascular bundles.
Xylem vessels transport water for photosynthesis.
Phloem transports manufactured food from leaves to other parts of the plant.
Leaf lamina is thin to allow for penetration of light over short distance to reach photosynthetic cells.
Broad lamina provides a large surface area for absorption of light and carbon (IV) oxide.
Transparent cuticle and epidermal layer allow light to penetrate to mesophyll cells.
Palisade cells are close to the upper epidermis for maximum light absorption.
Presence of numerous chloroplasts in palisade mesophyll traps maximum light.
Chloroplast contain chlorophyll that traps light energy.
Spongy mesophyll layer has large intercellular air spaces allowing for gaseous exchange.
Presence of stomata for efficient gaseous exchange (entry of carbon (IV) oxide into leaf and exit of oxygen).
Mosaic arrangement of leaves to ensure no overlapping of leaves hence every leaf is exposed to light.
Structure and Function of Chloroplasts
Chloroplasts are large organelles (5 um in diameter) found in the cytoplasm of green plant cells.
They are visible under the light microscope.
They contain chlorophyll, a green pigment and other carotenoids which are yellow, orange and red in colour.
Certain plants have red or purple leaves due to abundance of these other pigments.
Chlorophyll absorbs light energy and transforms it into chemical energy.
The other pigments absorb light but only to pass it onto chlorophyll.
The wall of chloroplast consists of an outer and an inner membrane.
The two make up the chloroplast envelop.
Inner membrane encloses a system of membranes called lamellae.
At intervals, the membranes form stacks of fluid filed sacs known as grana (singular granum).
Chloroplast and other pigments are attached to the grana.
In between the lamellae is a gel-like stroma that contains starch grains and lipid droplets.
Enzymes for the dark stage reaction (light independent stage) are embedded in the stroma.
Enzymes for the light dependent stage occur in the grana.
Functions of Chloroplast
Absorption of light by chlorophyll and other pigments.
Light stage of photosynthesis occurs on the grana. (Transformation of light energy to chemical energy.)
Carbon fixation to form carbohydrate takes place in the stroma which has enzymes for dark stage of photosynthesis.
The reaction occurs in two main phases or stages.
The initial state requires light and it is called the light dependent stage or simply light stage.
It takes place on the lamellae surfaces.
Its products are used in the dark stage.
The dark stage does not require light although it occurs in the light and is called light independent stage.
Two reactions take place that produce raw materials for the dark stage:
Light energy splits the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.
This process is called photolysis.
The hydrogen is taken up by a hydrogen acceptor called Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP) while oxygen is released as a by-product.
Light energy strikes the chlorophyll molecules and sets in motion a series of reactions resulting in the production of a high energy molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
This stage involves the fixation of carbon i.e. the reduction of carbon (IV) oxide by addition of hydrogen to form carbohydrate.
It uses the products formed during the light stage. Carbon (IV) oxide + Hydrogen = Carbohydrates
The synthesis of carbohydrates does not take place in a simple straight line reaction as shown in the equation above.
It involves a series of steps that constitute what is known as the Calvin cycle.
Carbon (IV) oxide is taken up by a compound described as a carbon (IV) oxide acceptor.
This is a 5-carbon compound known as ribulose biphosphate and a six carbon compound is formed which is unstable and splits into two three-carbon compounds.
Hydrogen from the light reaction is added to the three carbon compound using energy (ATP) from the light reaction.
The result is a three carbon (triose) sugar, (phosphoglycerate or PGA).
This is the first product of photosynthesis.
Glucose, other sugars as well as starch are made from condensation of the triose sugar molecules.
The first product is a 3-carbon sugar which condenses to form glucose (6-C sugar).
From glucose, sucrose and eventually starch is made.
Sucrose is the form in which carbohydrate is transported from the leaves to other parts of the plant.
Starch is the storage product.
Other substances like oils and proteins are made from sugars.
This involves incorporation of other elements e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur.
Factors Influencing Photosynthesis
Certain factors must be provided for before photosynthesis can take place.
The rate or amount of photosynthesis is also influenced by the quantity or quality of these same factors.
Carbon (IV) Oxide Concentration
Carbon (IV) oxide is one of the raw materials for photosynthesis.
No starch is formed when leaves are enclosed in an atmosphere without carbon (IV) oxide.
The concentration of carbon (IV) oxide in the atmosphere remains fairly constant at about 0.03% by volume.
However, it is possible to vary the carbon (IV) oxide concentration under experimental conditions.
Increasing the carbon (IV) oxide concentration up to 0.1 % increases the rate of photosynthesis.
Further increase reduces the rate.
Light supplies the energy for photosynthesis.
Plants kept in the dark do not form starch.
Generally, increase in light intensity up to a certain optimum, increases the rate of photosynthesis.
The optimum depends on the habitat of the plant.
Plants that grow in shady places have a lower optimum than those that grow in sunny places.
Water is necessary as a raw material for photosynthesis.
The amount of water available greatly affects the rate of photosynthesis.
The more water available, the more the photosynthetic rate, hence amount of food made.
Effect of water on photosynthesis can only be inferred from the yield of crops.
It is the main determinant of yield (limiting factor in the tropics).
The reactions involved in photosynthesis are catalysed by a series of enzymes.
A suitable temperature is therefore necessary.
The optimum temperature for photosynthesis in most plants is around 300C.
This depends on the natural habitat of the plant.
Some plants in temperate regions have 20°C as their optimum while others in the tropics have 45°C as their optimum temperature.
The rate of photosynthesis decreases with a decrease in temperature below the optimum.
In most plants, photosynthesis stops when temperatures approach O°C although some arctic plant species can photosynthesise at -2°C or even -3°C.
Likewise, increase in temperature above the optimum decreases the rate and finally the reactions stop at temperatures above 40°c due to enzyme denaturation.
However, certain algae that live in hot springs e.g. Oscilatoria can photosynthesis at 75°C
Chlorophyll traps or harnesses the energy from light.
Leaves without chlorophyll do not form starch.
Chemical Compounds Which Constitute Living Organisms
All matter is made up of chemical elements, each of which exists in the form of smaller units called atoms.
Some of the elements occur in large amounts in living things.
These include carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus.
Elements combine together to form compounds.
Some of these compounds are organic.
Organic compounds contain atoms of carbon combined with hydrogen and they are usually complex.
Other compounds are inorganic.
Most inorganic compounds do not contain carbon and hydrogen and they are usually less complex.
Cells contain hundreds of different classes of organic compounds.
However, there are four classes of organic compounds found in all cells.
These are: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids.
Disaccharides are broken into their monosaccharide units by heating with dilute hydrochloric acid.
This is known as hydrolysis and involves addition of water molecules.
The same process takes place inside cells through enzymes.
Sucrose + water + hydrolysis = glucose + fructose
Properties of Disaccharides
They are storage carbohydrates - starch in plants glycogen in animals.
They are hydrolysed to their constituent monosaccharide units and used for respiration.
They form structural material e.g. cellulose makes cell walls.
Cellulose has wide commercial uses e.g.
Pectins: Combine with calcium ions to form calcium pectate.
Chitin: Combine with (NH) group. Makes the exoskeleton of arthropods, and walls of fungi.
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