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Respiration: 5. A comparison of aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration in plants, yeasts and animals and relative yields of ATP

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(5) A comparison of aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration in plants and animals and relative yields of ATP

In prokaryotic organisms, aerobic respiration takes place in the cytoplasm.

In eukaryotic organisms, aerobic respiration takes place in the mitochondria of cells.

Anaerobic respiration takes place in the cytoplasm plant cells, animal cells and some microorganisms.

The actual energy release powering cell chemistry takes place through a very complex biochemistry cycle involving ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and its conversion to ATP (adenosine triphosphate)

It is the ATP molecule that actually supplies the chemical energy to power most of the chemistry of any cell. The more efficient the respiration, the more ATP is made, the faster and more efficient is the chemistry of cells - see the data table for comparison of type of respiration and the relative quantities of ATP produced.

The more ATP that is made, the greater the supply of energy available.

Aerobic respiration in plants and animals with excess oxygen can be summarised as:

glucose  + oxygen ===>  carbon dioxide  +  water  + energy

C6H12O6(aq)  +  6O2(g)  ===>  6CO2(g)  +  6H2O(l)  +  energy

Anaerobic respiration in animals, when there is a lack of oxygen

glucose  ===>  lactic acid  +  energy

C6H12O6   ===>  2C3H6O3  +  energy

Anaerobic respiration in organisms like plants or yeasts, when there is a lack of oxygen

glucose ===> ethanol ('alcohol')  +  carbon dioxide  +  energy

C6H12O6(aq) ====> 2C2H5OH(aq) + 2CO2(g)  + energy

Similarities and differences Aerobic respiration Anaerobic respiration
Conditions Oxygen needed, we can exercise normally! Little oxygen present due to e.g. vigorous exercise in an animal or organisms in waterlogged soils.
Substrate inputs Glucose or other sugar or any organic molecule like a fatty acid or protein molecule that can be completely oxidised. Glucose or other sugar or any organic molecule like a fatty acid or a protein molecule that can be partially oxidised.
Product outputs Carbon dioxide and water. In animals and some bacteria it is lactic acid. In plants, and some microorganisms like yeast, the products are ethanol and carbon dioxide.
ATP yield High e.g. 30 to 38 ATP molecules per molecule of glucose. Low e.g. 2 ATP molecules per molecule of glucose (15-19 x less than with aerobic respiration).

Keywords, phrases and learning objectives for this section on respiration

Know that production of ATP molecules from respiration is important to provide energy to power most of the chemistry of cells.

Be able to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration.

Know and understand the relative different in ATP yields produced from aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration in plants and animals.

Know that both aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration both produce ATP and anaerobic respiration is much less efficient.

Know that aerobic and anaerobic respiration produce the different chemical products.


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