Here's the question:

Imagine that you are given 25 germinating pea seeds that have been placed in boiling water for 5 minutes. You place these seeds in a respirometer and collect data. Predict the rate of oxygen consumption (i.e. cellular respiration) for these seeds and explain your reasons.

I'm thinking that there will be no cellular respiration and thus no oxygen consumption because the boiling probably messes it up, but I'm not sure why that is...

  • $\begingroup$ What does boiling do to proteins? Why would that impact cellular respiration? $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Nov 16 '16 at 3:59
  • $\begingroup$ Does it denature the proteins in the Electron Transport Chain such as ATP synthase? $\endgroup$ – Sapphira Nov 16 '16 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ It would denature a lot of proteins, not only respiratory proteins. Denaturation means unfolding followed by incorrect refolding so the protein can't do it's job. Until recently, this was seen as permanent damage, however research published in ChemBioChem 2015 shows that the denaturation can in theory be reversed. $\endgroup$ – James Nov 16 '16 at 5:17


Something you should know about proteins, they have primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures all due to specific folding of the proteins. These foldings are mainly connected via hydrogen bonds to each other along with other bonds (Alberts et al., 2002). On the action of heat, the molecules composing the bonds are vibrated due to higher kinetic energy resulting in the breaking of the bonds which causes unfolding of proteins (Wikipedia denaturation of proteins). This phenomenon is called Denaturation of Proteins which causes the loss of protein function due to loss of shape.

Read this QandA in Reference.com for more information about denaturation of proteins.

Read this for more information about proteins: Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition.

Link this idea to cellular respiration and how Electron Transport Chain and the Krebs Cycle (Citric acid cycle) involve proteins for the completion of the respective processes.

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