Matter & Energy

Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Where Photosynthesis Occurs

Plant photosynthesis occurs in leaves and green stems within specialized cell structures called chloroplasts. One plant leaf is composed of tens of thousands of cells, and each cell contains 40 to 50 chloroplasts. The chloroplast, an oval-shaped structure, is divided by membranes into numerous disk-shaped compartments. These disklike compartments, called thylakoids, are arranged vertically in the chloroplast like a stack of plates or pancakes. A stack of thylakoids is called a granum (plural, grana); the grana lie suspended in a fluid known as stroma.

Embedded in the membranes of the thylakoids are hundreds of molecules of chlorophyll, a light-trapping pigment required for photosynthesis. Additional light-trapping pigments, enzymes (organic substances that speed up chemical reactions), and other molecules needed for photosynthesis are also located within the thylakoid membranes. The pigments and enzymes are arranged in two types of units, Photosystem I and Photosystem II. Because a chloroplast may have dozens of thylakoids, and each thylakoid may contain thousands of photosystems, each chloroplast will contain millions of pigment molecules.

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