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Extra info for Environmental Health Perspectives - March 2011
With this introduction it is hardly surprising to find a description of this process in a book which specifically addresses the capabilities of biological organisms and their interplay. Leafy plants obviously feature in this section but so too do photosynthetic eukaryotic microorganisms and bacteria. A knowledge of this vital process is essential to appreciating the role which photosynthesising organisms play in the environment, their limitations and the strengths upon which biotechnology can capitalise.
Also there is evidence that during active electron transport, the morphology of the membrane changes and is believed to store energy in some way yet to be fully elucidated. Consequently, an intact membrane is essential. Any toxic substance which damages the integrity of a membrane has the potential to interrupt the functioning of the electron transport chain thereby reducing the facility for ATP synthesis and potentially killing the organism. The chain may also be disrupted by interference with the electron carriers.
The source of the hydrogen atom required to reduce the NADP+ to NADPH in this system is the water molecule which donates its electrons to photosystem 2 to replace those lost to NADP+ . It is the origin of the oxygen released during photosynthesis, hence the term oxygenic. 10 Oxygenic photosynthesis, photorespiration and the Hatch–Slack pathway finally NADP+ , which also collects a hydrogen atom to complete the reduction to NADPH. Both the cyclic and the non-cyclic pathways produce a proton gradient which drives the synthesis of ATP, but only the cyclic route has the facility of producing NADPH.