Plant Basics

If you're not a microbe and you're not an animal, chances are you are a plant. There are loads of species of plants on Earth. Just as there is a system of classification for animals, there is also a system of classification for plants. Because plants adapt so well to any climate, scientists need a way to organize the hundreds of thousands of species.

Images of Plants

What Makes a Plant?

What do they all have in common? The big thing that connects plants is photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process that allows plants to take energy from the Sun and create sugars. Not all plants go through the process of photosynthesis. As with all of biology, there are exceptions and you may learn about plant species that are parasites. Plants also have cell walls. In the cells tutorials we explained that all cells have a membrane. Only plants have an additional cell wall made from cellulose.

Let's look at photosynthesis. Plants are able to turn sunlight into energy but not directly. Plants are actually able to store energy in some chemical bonds that can be used later. Before we get into details, we'll explain that there are two processes on Earth: Photosynthesis and Respiration. Photosynthesis stores the energy and respiration releases that energy. It all starts with the Sun. Check out the tutorial on photosynthesis.

Images of Plants

Learning from Plants

Not only do you see plants everywhere in the real world, but they are also all over the scientific world. Scientists use them for studies in genetics. A guy named Gregor Mendel used pea pods and their flowers to come up with some of the first ideas on how traits are passed from one generation of organism to another (genetics). We also use plants for food. Scientists are constantly developing new plants that are more resistant to disease and insects. Scientists also help create plants that grow faster and make more food.

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