In the Light Dependent Processes (Light Reactions) light strikes chlorophyll a in such a way as to excite electrons to a higher energy state. In a series of reactions the energy is converted (along an electron transport process) into ATP and NADPH. Water is split in the process, releasing oxygen as a by-product of the reaction. The ATP and NADPH are used to make C-C bonds in the Light Independent Process (Dark Reactions).
In the Light Independent Process, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (or water for aquatic/marine organisms) is captured and modified by the addition of Hydrogen to form carbohydrates (general formula of carbohydrates is [CH2O]n). The incorporation of carbon dioxide into organic compounds is known as carbon fixation. The energy for this comes from the first phase of the photosynthetic process. Living systems cannot directly utilize light energy, but can, through a complicated series of reactions, convert it into C-C bond energy that can be released by glycolysis and other metabolic processes.
which grow in extremely salty water, are facultative aerobes, they can
grow when oxygen is absent. Purple pigments, known as retinal (a pigment
also found in the human eye) act similar to chlorophyll. The complex of
retinal and membrane proteins is known as bacteriorhodopsin, which generates
electrons which establish a proton gradient that powers an ADP-ATP pump,
generating ATP from sunlight without chlorophyll. This supports the theory
that chemiosmotic processes are universal in their ability to generate
Carbon-Fixing Reactions are also known as the Dark Reactions (or Light Independent Reactions). Carbon dioxide enters single-celled and aquatic autotrophs through no specialized structures, diffusing into the cells. Land plants must guard against drying out (desiccation) and so have evolved specialized structures known as stomata to allow gas to enter and leave the leaf. The Calvin Cycle occurs in the stroma of chloroplasts (where would it occur in a prokaryote?). Carbon dioxide is captured by the chemical ribulose biphosphate (RuBP). RuBP is a 5-C chemical. Six molecules of carbon dioxide enter the Calvin Cycle, eventually producing one molecule of glucose. The reactions in this process were worked out by Melvin Calvin.
Examples of photosynthetic organisms: leaves from higher plants flanked by colonies of photosynthetic purple bacteria (left) and cyanobacteria (right)
American Scientist: Why Leaves Turn Red