Why is NaOH Important in Photosynthesis?

Oxygen levels in the atmosphere depend on photosynthesis.
Oxygen levels in the atmosphere depend on photosynthesis. (Image: Plant image by Platinum Pictures from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Plant life, algae and some species of bacteria use photosynthesis to create their own food. In this process, plants convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates using the sun's energy. Oxygen is released as a waste product from the reaction. Photosynthesis is crucial to maintain the level of oxygen in the atmosphere. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is important to photosynthesis because it can affect the rate at which photosynthesis occurs.

Photosynthesis Requirements

Some organisms take the simple building blocks of carbon dioxide, water and nutrients (nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium) to build complex substances such as sugars, oils and proteins. The catalyst for photosynthesis is chlorophyll, the green pigment that absorbs light energy. When adequate water, nutrients, carbon dioxide and sunlight exist, photosynthesis occurs at optimum rates. If any of these components is missing or inadequate, the photosynthesis rate is limited.

Building blocks for plant food
Building blocks for plant food (Image: androsterone image by Cornelia Pithart from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Water pH

Defined in chemistry, pH is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Simply, pH actually measures the hydrogen ion concentration in the solution, which relates to the propensity of those ions to react with other components. The pH scale is from zero to 14, where zero is the most acidic and 14 is the most alkaline (basic). Pure distilled water has a pH of 7.0 and is considered neutral; pH levels are important in all aspects of biology and ecology, from human fluids to plant life to oceans and lakes.

pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity.
pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity. (Image: acid image by charles taylor from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Sodium Hydroxide and pH

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is a strong base that will have pH values of 8 to 14. It is also called lye or caustic soda and has many industrial and commercial applications such as paper manufacturing, textiles, soaps and detergents. Sodium hydroxide is also used to neutralize acidic solutions or raise the pH of water and soil.

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is a strong base.
Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is a strong base. (Image: flasks image by Wolszczak from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Effect of pH on Photosynthesis

The flow of carbon into several photosynthetic intermediates is strongly influenced by pH. If the measured pH in soil, fresh water or groundwater becomes acidic, plant uptake and photosynthesis rates decrease. Since plants use carbon dioxide as a carbon source, if the reaction rates decrease, carbon dioxide levels rise. The reaction of carbon dioxide with water produces carbonic acid, which further lowers pH into more acidic conditions. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) raises pH levels and can affect photosynthesis rates. Conditions that are too acidic (low pH) are detrimental to photosynthesis. Sodium hydroxide can increase pH to levels optimum for maximum photosynthesis rates.

Photosynthesis requires proper conditions.
Photosynthesis requires proper conditions. (Image: jurassic ferns image by Robert Kelly from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Changing the pH to Improve Photosynthesis Rates

An important relationship among alkalinity, pH and carbon dioxide exists with regards to photosynthesis rates. If the pH of the water required for photosynthesis becomes acidic, an increase in pH is important to reverse the effect. Studies have shown the optimum pH for photosynthesis to be slightly alkaline. Bases, such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH), are necessary to raise the pH to levels that are ideal for photosynthesis to occur.

Proper balance in pH is crucial for photosynthesis rates.
Proper balance in pH is crucial for photosynthesis rates. (Image: balance image by Stanisa Martinovic from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Related Searches


Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Make a Vertical Clay Pot Garden

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!