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Chapter 3: Photosynthesis

Page Number
p. 144

Explore an Issue – Take a Stand: Can Plants Cure Sick Building Syndrome?
Statement: Plants may be used as an effective treatment for sick building syndrome.
Conduct library and/or Internet research to investigate:

(i) the indicators of SBS;
(ii) the possible causes of SBS;
(iii) procedures used to identify SBS;
(iv) the effectiveness of the use of plants in the treatment of SBS;
(v) the types of plants that some have found to be useful in the treatment of SBS.

(a) As a plant biologist and consultant to the Canadian Labour Congress, you will be attending an upcoming World Health Organization (WHO) conference on Environmental Pollution in the Workplace. For the conference, you must prepare a brochure if slide presentation on the effectiveness of the use of plants in the treatment of SBS.

Sick Building Syndrome Links
McGill University has assembled a list of Sick Building Syndrome Links that include factsheets and symptom descriptions from around the world.

Sick Building Syndrome
This well laid out site from the National Safety Council, USA, defines Sick Building Syndrome and how it is recognized. Some causes and some solutions are also addressed.

Sick Building Syndrome Factsheet
Ohio State University’s Sick Building Syndrome Factsheet explains how it has come to be that some buildings make some of us ill. The site details steps taken in identifying a sick building, and offers practical suggestions on what to do if you are affected.


Articles about Sick Building Syndrome
Articles about Sick Building Syndrome provides links to press articles about a large range of topics on indoor pollution and pollutants, including a site that discusses plants that filter air.


p. 146

Section 3.1 questions

10. Carnivorous plants like the Venus fly-trap (Dionaea species) and the pitcher plant (Cephalotus species) obtain nutrients by digesting small insects. Conduct library and/or Internet research to determine:

a. whether these plants are autotrophs or heterotrophs;

b. why these plants digest animals.

The Carnivorous Plant FAQ
The Carnivorous Plant FAQ site is maintained by the International Carnivorous Plant Society. Carnivorous plant ecology, gardening, conservation and taxonomy are organized as a large list of interesting questions. The site has many great photos.



p. 146

Section 3.1 questions

11. Many products containing chlorophyll are sold in pharmacies and health food stores.

a. Identify and list three different products containing chlorophyll you can buy at a pharmacy or other store.

b. Describe the suggested uses for each of these products.

c. Conduct library and/or Internet research to determine the characteristics of chlorophyll that make it suitable for use in these products. If you do not find suitable reasons, form your own hypothesis.

Body Mint
The producers of the Body Mint pill claim that if you take one pill a day all of your body odour will be reduced from head to toe. Any guess what the main ingredient is?

These ‘infomercial’ Web pages explain the health benefits of Chlorella, the “richest natural food source of chlorophyll.” It also includes a link to a brief description of chlorophyll’s health benefits.

Wheatgrass Juice
Wheatgrass Juice is marketed on this Web site as a healing agent. Includes a brief, but long, list of its medical benefits that are present, in part, because of its high chlorophyll content.

The Nature’s Sunshine herbal company explains the believed health benefits of Chlorophyll and outlines the ailments that are best aided by drinking it.


p. 155

Section 3.2 questions

12. Conduct library and/or Internet research to answer the following questions regarding leaves:

a. What are bracts?

b. What colour changes do bracts of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants undergo? At what time of year does this change normally occur?

c. Describe the history of the poinsettia as a popular Christmas plant.

This gardening info site provides basic information on the Poinsettia’s worldwide role at Christmas. Included is some folklore and other interesting tidbits about production and local traditions.

Poinsettia: Pretty and Popular
Poinsettia: Pretty and Popular is an electronic version of a newspaper article from Trinadad, where the plant is grown locally. It contains some history of the plant's discovery and its ornamental use.

Keeping your Holiday Poinsettia Happy
From, this article provides lots of information on Keeping your Holiday Poinsettia Happy - this includes the special conditions required for flowering.

The Science and Myths of a Christmas Flower
The Science and Myths of a Christmas Flower, covers the science of breeding poinsettias and explains the difference between the plant’s bracts and flowers. From, this article also answers the question, is the poinsettia poisonous?

Nurture it or Throw it Away?
Nurture it or Throw it Away? - what to do with your poinsettia in January. This article from Utah State University covers the history of the plant’s popularity, its growing conditions, and explains why the bracts are so colourful.

The Poinsettia Pages
The Poinsettia Pages is a collection of interesting facts and legends along with info on how to choose one a poinsettia, practical tips for care, and more poinsettia links. This site comes from the University of Illinois.

Poinsettia Care and Selection
Poinsettia Care and Selection is a gardener's guide to the do’s and don’ts of poinsetta care, plus tips on choosing a good one, and how to encourage reblooming year after year.



p. 155

Section 3.2 questions

13. Many lightbulb manufacturers produce fluorescent tubes labelled as “growlights” that they claim emit “full-spectrum light that imitates sunlight.” Conduct library and/or Internet research to determine whether fluorescent tubes labelled as “growlights” are more effective sources of artificial light for growing plants indoors than tubes without this label.

Artificial Lighting
This essay provides excellent coverage of the various Artificial Lighting options for growing aquarium plants. There is lots of info on what products are available and an explanation of the rationale behind the use of each type of light.

House plants: Artificial Light
House plants: Artificial Light describes the different types of artificial light, what works and what doesn’t, and why. This easy-to-understand site from the Alberta government explains what factors are important in choosing lighting.



p. 167

Section 3.3 Questions

16. Recent advances in remote sensing have made detection of plant health possible on a large scale. Using satellite images, spectral analysis, and other sensing technologies, farmers may now detect problems in large fields of crops before they are identified at ground level. Conduct library and/or Internet research about spectral remote sensing as applied to plants to answer the following questions:

a. What characteristic(s) of plants do remote sensing systems detect to provide information regarding a crop’s overall health?

b. Why would a farmer spend money to have crops tested by these methods? What advantages are gained by the procedure?

Remote Sensing and Vegetation Classification
Remote Sensing and Vegetation Classification gives details of the varying plant properties that affect imaging, with explanations of the scientific terms used. From the University of Calgary.

Remote Sensing
Q: How can a farmer monitor the health of his crops without going into his field? A: Remote Sensing. This NASA site has several pages with good explanations on how remote sensing works.

Precision Agriculture: Crop Yield
Precision Agriculture: Crop Yield describes research being conducted in association with NASA. It also details some of the benefits that the use of remote sensing may have for farmers.

Potential Applications of Remote Sensing
Potential Applications of Remote Sensing provides a good, but brief, summary of the main factors that have determined the usefulness of remote sensing in crop management. More info is available in a PDF document.



p. 172

Section 3.4 Questions

11. Conduct library and/or Internet research to answer the following questions regarding weeds:

a. What is a weed?

b. Of the ten most aggressive weeds in the world, eight of them are C4 plants. Identify them and name three common North American C4 pants that are classified as weeds.

c. Some of the world’s most productive crops are C4 plants. Identify and name three important North American crops that are C4 plants.

d. How will escalation of the greenhouse effect (a result of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations) affect the competition between C3 and C4 plants in terms of crop productivity and weed control?

The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide
The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide’s site provides a definition of C4 plants, with explanations of difficult terms. It also examines some of the research on the effect of greenhouse gases on C4 plants.

Colorado State University’s Weeds page features descriptions and photos of the state’s most common weeds and indicates the biological characteristics that make them difficult to kill.

Influence of Increasing CO2 on C4 Crops and Weeds
This article briefly describes the results of an experiment that compared the Influence of Increasing CO2 on C4 Crops and Weeds. It also states the expected differences of increased CO2 on C4 versus C3 plants. From the US Department of Agriculture.

Pollution Helps Weeds Take over Prairies
This article from ScienceNewsOnline magazine is about how greenhouse gases are thought to affect C4 and C3 plants on Minnesota prairie. In a nutshell, Pollution Helps Weeds Take over Prairies.

Weeds and Their Control
What is a weed? What are the most common species in the world? Which ones are C4 plants? These questions and more are answered in Weeds and Their Control, part of an online text for a course given by the University of Hawaii.

Effects of Elevated CO2 on Wetlands
This article discusses the results of some studies performed to date that examine the Effects of Elevated CO2 on Wetlands and, in particular, compare the response of C3 plants to C4 plants. The site is published by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

Converting Rice from C3 to C4
Dr. Ku, a professor at Washington State University, wrote this news release about his work on rice, a globally important crop. After explaining the difference between C3 and C4 plants, Dr. Ku outlines his progress in Converting Rice from C3 to C4.

Ontario’s Weeds
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s Web site has factsheets on a number of Ontario’s Weeds, as well as a weed identification quiz and a good assortment of further Canadian weed links.


p. 180

Explore an Issue – Take a Stand: Tropical Rain-Forest Depletion: Is There Cause for Concern?
Statement: The governments of developing countries have the right to make room for agriculture and industrialization by clearing tropical rain forests.

  • Add your own ideas to the above-mentioned points.
  • Find information to help you learn more about the issue.
  • In a group, discuss the ideas.

    EarthAction, an environmental group, reports on two recent successful campaigns to prevent governments from developing rainforest lands.


    Latin American Rainforest Update
    Latin American Rainforest Update is a collection of four news stories from 1995 discussing development and conservation of forests in several Central American countries.

    Controversy over Logging
    Controversy over Logging is a 2002 article detailing the public’s response to the Australian government’s promotion of logging in Papua New Guinea’s rainforests.



p. 182

Section 3.6 questions

The diagram on the Unit 1 opening pages is part of a much larger metabolic pathway chart that outlines almost all known metabolic reactions. Conduct Internet research to see the complete chart and to answer the following questions.

a. Identify all of the major metabolic pathways you have studied in this unit, and note the interactions among them.

b. Why do scientists produce such charts? How are they useful?

Metabolic Pathways Chart
Wow! The complete Metabolic Pathways Chart looks complicated. Hint: Once students have clicked on a section to zoom in, there is an option at the bottom of the page for a keyword search. This should help students locate all the major pathways studied in this unit.

Biochemical Pathways Chart
The Biochemical Pathways Chart looks just as complicated as the Metabolic Pathways Chart, and is arranged the same way.



p. 193

Chapter 3 Review

20. Conduct library and/or Internet research to study the historical development of the endosymbiotic theory of the origins of the chloroplast. Write a brief essay describing the development of the theory and the social and professional challenges faced by its developer(s). In your essay, describe rival theories in support of, and against, endosymbiosis.

The Endosymbiotic Theory of Chloroplast Evolution
This well-organized site contains diagrams and tables that describe The Endosymbiotic Theory of Chloroplast Evolution. The professor who created the site for biology students at Indiana University obviously supports this theory.

The Origin of Chloroplasts
This site presents the notes from a lecture at the University of Minnesota on The Origin of Chloroplasts, emphasizing the endosymbiotic theory. It lists the alternate theories and briefly presents evidence for and against the theory.

The Endosymbiotic Theory
This site delivers in-depth coverage of The Endosymbiotic Theory, with descriptions of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and discussion of some interesting supporting research. The site is part of a course offered at Georgia Perimeter College.



p. 193

Chapter 3 Review

21. Recently, some delegates at international conferences on global warming have proposed that planting more trees can offset the carbon dioxide emissions that produce the greenhouse effect and global warming.

a. Identify two major greenhouse gases.

b. Why are these gases called greenhouse gases?

c. What is the greenhouse effect and how does it contribute to global warming?

d. Write a supported position paper on the contention that the strategy of planting more trees is an effective alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Global Warming
Global Warming is a colourful site from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It includes pages on greenhouse gases as well as lots of additional information and statistics.

Plant Trees to Reduce Global Warming
Plant Trees to Reduce Global Warming lists some links to a few tree planting programs and a site with a negative view about tree planting’s potential. At the bottom of the page is an excellent article from New Scientist magazine that discusses global plans to plant trees, and the effectiveness of this measure in combating warming trends.

Causes of Climate Warming
This Web page on the Causes of Climate Warming is part of a site on Canada’s Arctic, from the University of Guelph. It explains what greenhouse gases are, and how they relate to global atmospheric temperature.


p. 193

Chapter 3 Review

22. Several biotechnology research companies are experimenting with the possibility of producing plastic from plants, called “green plastic.” One procedure turns sugar from corn and other plants into polylactide (PLA), a plastic similar to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is a petrochemical plastic used in pop bottles and clothing fibres. Conduct Internet research to complete the following tasks:

a. Describe one or two other green plastics and their potential uses.

b. Compare the costs and benefits of producing green plastics on a large scale with producing conventional oil-based plastics.


How Green are Green Plastics?
This article from a 2000 issue of Scientific American explores the pros and cons and feasibility of using plants to produce plastics. It asks, How Green are Green Plastics?



p. 193

Chapter 3 Review

23. Biomass, plant matter such as trees, grasses, and agricultural crops, may be used as a solid fuel or converted into liquid or gaseous forms for the production of electric power, heat, or chemicals for use in vehicles. Conduct library and/or Internet research to answer the following questions:

a. How is electricity generated from biofuel?

b. What proportion of electric power production in Canada comes from biomass energy? What is the potential for increasing the amount of electricity produced by biomass?

c. Compare the costs and benefits of producing automobile fuel from biomass with producing fuel from petroleum.

Biomass Energy
This essay provides an introduction to Biomass Energy, by the California Energy Commission. It provides some figures on the current use of biomass to generate energy in the US and California and discusses some of its benefits.

Biomass: The Growing Energy Resource
Biomass: The Growing Energy Resource is a well-organized site with good coverage of topics ranging from where the energy comes from, how it’s used, and biomass farming.

How Biomass Energy Works
How Biomass Energy Works is an excellent site that details the main plant sources of biomass, how biomass is converted into usable forms, its environmental benefits, and its potential for use.

Ethanol and Sustainable Development
Ethanol and Sustainable Development: A well thought-out article from McGill University that examines the feasibility of farming corn for the purpose of producing ethanol for energy. Suggests an alternative crop that may prove to be the best source of farmed ethanol.

Alternative Energies: BioMass
Alternative Energies: BioMass, from the Environmental Youth Alliance, provides a brief description of the importance of this energy source to Canada. A link to a PDF document is well worth viewing for its excellent descriptions of the methods of converting plant matter into usable forms of energy, with lots of diagrams and a quick facts page.

Want to know how to make your own Biofuels? According to this site, it is easy. Includes tons of well-worded information on the methods of making biofuel, as well as a library of links, a Biofuels News section, and a searchable archive of items posted on their mailing list.

Converting Biomass into Useful Energy
This site provides a well-organized overview of Converting Biomass into Useful Energy from the National Energy Renewable Laboratory. The essay covers the main methods of getting electricity from biomass, describes the main biofuels, and briefs the benefits and challenges of the biofuel industry. It also links to further info on biomass energy technology.