"Photosynthesis" is what is used to describe how plants use sunlight to synthesize sugars, but, I also heard some animals like humans use sunlight in the process of creating vitamin D. Is there a comparable name for when sunlight is used by animals in a metabolic process?

  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps you would want to replace "animals" with "organisms". I don't think there would be a special term just for animals. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Dec 19 '18 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ One important metabolic process where light is used by animals is the visual cycle, where light-induced isomerization of 11-cis-retinal to all-trans retinal is a key event. $\endgroup$ – user1136 Dec 19 '18 at 11:27

Photometabolism or photocatalysis would be apt terms and the former would specifically refer to biochemical reactions.

Photometabolism is also used in the context of the light dependent conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to Vitamin-D.

A google scholar search with photometabolism returns many peer-reviewed articles that have used this term. Some examples:

  1. Photometabolism of 7-dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D3 in skin.
  2. The photometabolism of glucose by an hydrogen-adapted alga
  3. Photometabolism of Heterocyclic Aromatic Compounds by Rhodopseudomonas palustris OU 11.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "photo-metabolism" also, e.g.here. $\endgroup$ – David Dec 19 '18 at 21:55

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