The Calvin cycle is a process that plants and algae use to turn carbon dioxide from the air into sugar, the food autotrophs need to grow.

Every living thing on Earth depends on the Calvin cycle. Plants depend on the Calvin cycle for energy and food. Other organisms, including herbivores, also depend on it indirectly because they depend on plants for food. Even organisms that eat other organisms, such as carnivores, depend on the Calvin cycle. Without it, they wouldn't have the food, energy, and nutrients they need to survive.

The Calvin cycle has four main steps: carbon fixation, reduction phase, carbohydrate formation, and regeneration phase. Energy to fuel chemical reactions in this sugar-generating process is provided by ATP and NADPH, chemical compounds which contain the energy plants have captured from sunlight.

Noun

layer of gases surrounding Earth.

algae
Plural Noun

(singular: alga) diverse group of aquatic organisms, the largest of which are seaweeds.

ATP
Noun

(adenosine triphosphate) chemical found in most living cells and used for energy.

Noun

organism that can produce its own food and nutrients from chemicals in the atmosphere, usually through photosynthesis or chemosynthesis.

biochemist
Noun

person who studies the properties and reactions of chemicals in living or once-living material.

Calvin cycle
Noun

series of reactions that take place during photosynthesis, where carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere are converted into sugar.

carbohydrate
Noun

type of sugar that is an important nutrient for most organisms.

carbon dioxide
Noun

greenhouse gas produced by animals during respiration and used by plants during photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is also the byproduct of burning fossil fuels.

carbon fixation
Noun

method plants use to attach carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to a chemical (RuBP) in order to start the process of photosynthesis.

Noun

organism that eats meat.

chemical reaction
Noun

process that involves a change in atoms, ions, or molecules of the substances (reagents) involved.

energy
Noun

capacity to do work.

Noun

material, usually of plant or animal origin, that living organisms use to obtain nutrients.

Noun

organism that eats mainly plants and other producers.

NADPH
Noun

(nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) chemical found in most living cells and used for energy.

Noun

substance an organism needs for energy, growth, and life.

plant
Noun

organism that produces its own food through photosynthesis and whose cells have walls.

reduction phase
Noun

second step in the Calvin cycle of photosynthesis, where energy reacts with chemicals to create the simple sugar G3P.

regeneration phase
Noun

fourth and final step in the Calvin cycle of photosynthesis, where energy and sugar interact to form the molecule RuBP, allowing the cycle to start again.

sugar
Noun

type of chemical compound that is sweet-tasting and in some form essential to life.