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How is photosynthesis observed?

  • Say I have plants A and B, and I want to find how fast they are able to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. How would I experiment this?

  • Say I have one plant A, which has two kinds of leafs B and C. I hypothesize the B-leafs produce oxygen faster than the C-leafs. What kind of experiment could I set up to test this?

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    $\begingroup$ Is that a homework question? $\endgroup$ – Chris Aug 4 '14 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ No, I'm just interested. Anyway, if the question is too simple for this site, I would be happy with a good reference alone. $\endgroup$ – user8620 Aug 4 '14 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ No, that's fine. I am just asking. $\endgroup$ – Chris Aug 4 '14 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ What do you want to measure- $CO_2$ consumption/carbon fixation, $O_2$ production or $ATP$ production ? All rates need not be the same.. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Aug 5 '14 at 4:29
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    $\begingroup$ You can try isolating the leaf/bunch of leaves (in a transparent cellophane paper or something similar), and then pass the air content inside the isolated region after a while, through solutions such as $KOH$ or alkaline pyrogallol. $KOH$ dissolves $CO_2$, whereas pyrogallol dissolves $O_2$. The reduction in the total gas volume will be equal to the amount of the particular gas. You should normalize this with the total surface area of the leaves. This is just my guess for a homework type experiment. I am sure complex equipments exist. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Aug 5 '14 at 4:42
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Not sure, this what you need, but here you can find a detailed description of how photosynthesis efficiency can be measured in the field, with a list of modern devices. In short, it's about measuring the uptake of CO2 and release of H2O of individual leaves.

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Hydrogen carbonate is an indicator commonly used for testing photosynthesis. It shows changes in carbon dioxide concentration in the air. You would set up the plant in a sealed system next to a tray of hydrogen carbonate indicator solution and observe the colour change.

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