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Plant respiration is a vital process which allows plants to metabolize stored glucose molecules, in which the materials have been obtained from photosynthesis, to produce energy. This process of respiration is vital for plant functions such as growth and reproduction.

Chemical equations for respiration:

Aerobic: C6H12O6 + 6O2 = 6H2O + 6CO2 + energy


C6H12O6 = glucose

O2 = oxygen

H2O = water

CO2 = carbon dioxide

Anaerobic: C6H12O6 = 2CO2 + 2C2H5OH + energy


C6H12O6 = glucose

C2H5OH = ethanol (alcohol)

Plants are capable of both aerobic and anaerobic respiration, depending on whether they require oxygen or not. In order to complete their internal work required for living, plants must burn the products they have acquired during photosynthesis. Unlike photosynthesis, respiration in plants can occur both in the dark and in the light.

In comparison to animals, plants respire at a much lower rate. Nevertheless, respiration is a critical life process for plants, just as it is for animal species. Furthermore, the respiration rate for plants fluctuates. When the environmental conditions are preferable for photosynthesis, the respiration rate lowers. Subsequently, when photosynthesis is not favoured, the rate of respiration increases. 

When considering a plant`s carbon budget, respiration must be accounted for. Of course, how much carbon is required is dependent on both the environment and the type of species. Clearly, respiration in plants is an important life process which must not be underestimated. 

Plants ability to overcome cyanide poisoning

The presence of low levels of cyanide arrests cellular respiration in animals, yet has little or no effect on plants. Explain how plants are able to overcome the effect of cyanide poisoning.