If you took the chemicals a plant gains through photosynthesis and put it through the plants' roots or by injection, or used as a foliar application for intake through the stomata, would the plant need light? If not, how would it respond to the treatment?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you suggesting that someone would artificially supply a plant with sugar, proteins, lipids, etc. via the roots? Isn't that sort of like putting a plant on a feeding tube? $\endgroup$
    – Meg Coates
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Would it work? $\endgroup$
    – J. Musser
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 2:03
  • $\begingroup$ This approach can be used to culture mycorrhizae jstor.org/stable/3760183 $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ There are a couple autotrophic plants that parasitize other plants that kind of do this already. But you probably couldn't do it to any plant. But you could do it to some $\endgroup$
    – Resonating
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 10:35

2 Answers 2


Not exactly the same thing, but a species of algae has been genetically altered to allow it to uptake glucose, bypassing the need for photosynthesis: http://www.unisci.com/stories/20012/0615013.htm


I doubt this would work for the vast majority of plants. I think it would cause root rot as the microorganisms in the soil would out-compete the plant. Also the transport systems of the plant might not be efficient in this direction.

I mean might there be a plant somewhere where this might work? Sure. Fungi that grow in the dark would be a lot like such plants, so its biologically possible. There might be a primitive plant that doesn't need its chloroplast to be active to live. I've never heard of one and wikipedia is not helping here...


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