Polar forests reappeared in the Eocene after the , and the Eocene’s was the Cenozoic’s warmest time and . Not only did alligators live near the North Pole, but the continents and oceans hosted an abundance and diversity of life that Earth may have not seen before or since. That ten million year period ended as Earth began cooling off and headed toward the current ice age, and it has been called the original Paradise Lost. One way that methane has been implicated in those hot times is that leaves have , which regulate the air they take in to obtain carbon dioxide and oxygen, needed for photosynthesis and respiration. Plants also lose water vapor through their stomata, so balancing gas input needs against water losses are key stomata functions, and it is thought that in periods of high carbon dioxide concentration, . Scientists can count stomata density in fossil leaves, which led some scientists to conclude that carbon dioxide levels were not high enough to produce the PETM, so that produced the PETM and , and the controversy and research continues.
It can be helpful at this juncture to grasp the cumulative impact of , inventing , inventing , inventing that made possible, and inventing . Pound-for-pound, the complex organisms that began to dominate Earth’s ecosphere during the Cambrian Period consumed energy about 100,000 times as fast as the Sun produced it. Life on Earth is an incredibly energy-intensive phenomenon, powered by sunlight. In the end, only so much sunlight reaches Earth, and it has always been life’s primary limiting variable. Photosynthesis became more efficient, aerobic respiration was an order-of-magnitude leap in energy efficiency, the oxygenation of the atmosphere and oceans allowed animals to colonize land and ocean sediments and even fly, and life’s colonization of land allowed for a . Life could exploit new niches and even help create them, but the key innovations and pioneering were achieved long ago. If humanity attains the , new niches will arise, even of the , but all other creatures living on Earth have constraints, primarily energy constraints, which produce very real limits. Life on Earth has largely been a for several hundred million years, but the Cambrian Explosion was one of those halcyonic times when animal life had its greatest expansion, not built on the bones of a mass extinction so much as blazing new trails.
Revised 9/2016 to reorder LOs and some sections (begin with different types of cellular metabolism before diving into respiration), add summary of cellular respiration essentials, drop redundancies in evolution, cleaned up some typos and streamlined some explanations.
The respiration and photosynthesis cycles in complex organisms have been the focus of a great deal of scientific effort, and cyclic diagrams (, ) can provide helpful portrayals of how cycles work. Photosynthesis has several cycles in it, and Nobel Prizes were awarded to the scientists who helped describe the cycles. Chlorophyll molecules , with magnesium in their porphyrin cages, and long tails. Below is a diagram of a chlorophyll molecule. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Perhaps a few hundred million years after the first mitochondrion appeared, as the oceanic oxygen content, at least on the surface, increased as a result of oxygenic photosynthesis, those complex cells learned to use oxygen instead of hydrogen. It is difficult to overstate the importance of learning to use oxygen in respiration, called . Before the appearance of aerobic respiration, life generated energy via and . Because oxygen , aerobic respiration generates, on average, about per cycle as fermentation and anaerobic respiration do (although some types of anaerobic respiration can get ). The suite of complex life on Earth today would not have been possible without the energy provided by oxygenic respiration. At minimum, nothing could have flown, and any animal life that might have evolved would have never left the oceans because the atmosphere would not have been breathable. With the advent of aerobic respiration, became possible, as it is several times as efficient as anaerobic respiration and fermentation (about 40% as compared to less than 10%). Today’s food chains of several levels would be constrained to about two in the absence of oxygen. Some scientists have and oxygen and respiration in eukaryote evolution. is controversial.
As with other early life processes, the first photosynthetic process was different from today’s, but the important result – capturing sunlight to power biological processes – was the same. The scientific consensus today is that a respiration cycle was modified, and a in a was used for capturing sunlight. Intermediate stages have been hypothesized, including the cytochrome using a pigment to create a shield to absorb ultraviolet light, or that the pigment was part of an infrared sensor (for locating volcanic vents). But whatever the case was, the conversion of a respiration system into a photosynthetic system is considered to have only happened , and all photosynthesizers descended from that original innovation.
In the earliest days of life on Earth, it had to solve the problems of how to reproduce, how to separate itself from its environment, how to acquire raw materials, and how to make the chemical reactions that it needed. But it was confined to those areas where it could take advantage of briefly available potential energy as . The earliest process of skimming energy from energy gradients to power life is called respiration. That earliest respiration is today called because there was virtually no free oxygen in the atmosphere or ocean in those early days. Respiration was life’s first energy cycle. A biological energy cycle begins by harvesting an energy gradient (usually by a proton crossing a membrane or, in photosynthesis, directly capturing photon energy), and the acquired energy powered chemical reactions. The cycle then proceeds in steps, and the reaction products of each step sequentially use a little more energy from the initial capture until the initial energy has been depleted and the cycle’s molecules are returned to their starting point and ready for a fresh influx of energy to repeat the cycle.
Thanks for the great resources. I didn't realize before I started to use the photosynthesis and respiration minds-on activities that these lessons were designed for classrooms with limited internet access, and I wanted to add my two-cents about that. I do have regular internet access in a computer lab or with a laptop cart, and most students now have a mobile device that they can share with others. Web activities and quests are great, but I find that with these minds-on activities (I like that term a lot), my students are more likely to read carefully, study diagrams, refer to previous lessons, and are overall more engaged than if they were using screen time to accomplish similar learning tasks. I use these activities using a POGIL style approach, and my students have a much deeper understanding of these difficult topics - and they enjoy the opportunity to work on them together. I would encourage more teachers who are concerned about students obtaining a deep understanding of biological topics to steer clear of flashier web based applications and make some of these resources work for their classrooms (thank you for publishing the resources in Word so it is easier to do this). I wish I had found them years ago!
The questions in this activity help students to understand the effects of consuming sports drinks and when and how the consumption of sports drinks can be beneficial or harmful. This activity provides the opportunity to review some basic concepts related to osmosis, cellular respiration, mammalian temperature regulation, and how our different body systems cooperate to maintain homeostasis.
As with enzymes, the molecules used in biological processes are often huge and complex, but ATP energy drives all processes and that energy came from either potential chemical energy in Earth’s interior or sunlight, but even chemosynthetic organisms rely on sunlight to provide their energy. The Sun thus powers all life on Earth. The cycles that capture energy (photosynthesis or chemosynthesis) or produce it (fermentation or respiration) generally have many steps in them, and some cycles can run backwards, such as the . Below is a diagram of the citric acid (Krebs) cycle. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Students learn how organic molecules move and are transformed in ecosystems as a result of the trophic relationships in food webs, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and biosynthesis. This provides the basis for understanding carbon cycles and energy flow through ecosystems. In the final section, students use these concepts and quantitative reasoning to understand trophic pyramids. (NGSS)