BIO101L: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology Lab

** Unit 4: Photosynthesis**   Photosynthesis is the process that allows plant cells to “create” energy for themselves, to continue to exist, and to grow.  The activities below will focus on understanding both the overall effects and results of photosynthesis and the individual steps that enable photosynthesis to occur.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 4 hours to complete.

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Describe the process of photosynthesis and its significance. - List the steps of photosynthesis. - Determine the factors that would influence or alter various specific steps of photosynthesis.

  • Web Media: University of Rochester: Life Sciences Learning Center’s “Photosynthesis” and John Kyrk’s “Photosynthesis: Light Reactions and Dark Reactions” Links:  University of Rochester: Life Sciences Learning Center’s “Photosynthesis” (Flash Animation) and John Kyrk’s “Photosynthesis: Light Reactions (Adobe Flash) and Dark Reactions” (Adobe Flash)
    Instructions: Please click through these three tutorials for a walk-through of the photosynthetic process.  The first tutorial provides a general overview; the other two provide important specifics about the two phases of photosynthesis: the Light Reactions (Photosynthesis I) and the Dark Reactions (Photosynthesis II).  As you work through these tutorials, think about how the steps are interrelated and consider the important environmental factors surrounding each step in the process. 
    Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of the Life Sciences Learning Center, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

  • Reading: Plant, Cell, and Environment: USDA’s “Can Improvement in Photosynthesis Increase Crop Yields?” Link: Plant, Cell, and Environment: USDA’s “Can Improvement in Photosynthesis Increase Crop Yields?” (PDF)
    Also available in:


    Instructions:  Please click the link for this article on the web page to access the PDF.  Please read the entire article and take notes on how and why the authors suggest that artificial alteration of photosynthesis might be beneficial.  Then answer the following questions:
    1)     What methods were suggested as possible mechanisms for increasing photosynthetic rate?
    2)     Can you summarize a possible experiment that could test whether one of the suggested methods would work to increase photosynthetic rate and/or crop yield?  Please indicate the controls and variables.
    When you are done, check your work against the Saylor Foundation’s “Answer Guide 4.” (PDF)
    Terms of Use: This material is part of the public domain.