The cellular respiration is the process of combining the oxygen with the molecules of eaten food to divert the chemical energy present in the food substances into the activities that sustain life. The process also includes discarding inconsumable products as waste, along with water and carbon dioxide. In other words, the whole activity consists of some sets of processes and metabolic reactions, which operates inside the cell of every living organisms, and the primary goal of this activity is to produce ATP or adenosine triphosphate by converting the biochemical energy that the cells get from the nutrients. All the types of reactions that are involved in the respiration are reactions that are catabolic. The basic working procedure of the catabolic reactions is to produce smaller molecules by breaking the larger molecules, and during the process, the reactions release energy. The activities of every cell are always in work only because of the respiration, as one of the key ways to get power or fuel in the cell is to respire by releasing chemical energy. In the case of cellular respiration, the activity releases heat during the process and often, cellular reactions are known as exothermic redox reactions. The whole process is done via biochemical steps, which occurs in some certain series. According to many scientists, the whole process of cellular respiration is technically a reaction of combustion. However, when the cellular respirations takes place inside the cells, the process does not look like or resemble the combustion reactions as the release of heat and the energy happen slowly from the reaction series.
The most common nutrients used by the cells of plants and animals include fatty acids, amino acids and sugar. The molecules of the oxygen (O2) are the most common and primary oxidizing agent present in the cells. The molecules are transported across the membranes of the cells with the help of the chemical energy that is stored in the cells as ATP. The process is known as locomotion, and the same ATP is used to drive numerous processes including biosynthesis that require energy.
There are two types of cellular respirations present among the living organisms and they are - Aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration.
Aerobic respiration: The main feature of this type of respiration is that the whole activity of the process necessarily requires the molecules of Oxygen to produce the target ATP. Other reactants such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates are also consumed during the process. This is the preferred method to breakdown the pyruvate in glycolysis. The cycle of Krebs present in the mitochondria oxidizes the pyruvate when it enters after the glycolysis breakdown. After the process, products like water and carbon dioxide are produced, and the transferred energy is used for breaking ADP bonds as the ATP is formed by the addition of the group of third phosphate. The ATP addition is done by FADH2, NADH and substrate-level phosphorylation. The following reaction is the simplification of the whole process –
C6H12O6 (s) + 6 O2 (g) → 6 CO2 (g) + 6 H2O (l) + heat
ΔG = −2880 kJ per mol of C6H12O6
From the above equation, it can be seen that the value of ΔG is in negative, which indicates spontaneity of the reaction. A transport chain of the electron, which consists of oxygen molecules as “terminal electron acceptor”, converts the FADH2 and NADH potential in to the ATP. Oxidative phosphorylation, which makes aerobic cellular respiration, produces the most ATP. The highest amount of the ATP molecules that can be produced per oxidized glucose during the cellular respiration is 38. However, the maximum number is never reached due to the loss because of membrane leaking. The current estimated range of ATP production is 29 to 30. The equation of cellular respiration above has been formulated after combining three processes. The three processes are Glycolysis, Krebs cycle and Oxidative Phosphorylation.
Glycolysis – The glucose molecule is broken down to two three molecules of carbon that is pyruvate or pyruvic acid. Almost 10 sequenced reactions of chemical take place in every cell, which in result breaks down a large glucose molecule into a pair of pyruvate molecules. The process of Glycolysis is also known as metabolic pathway and it takes place in cell’s cytosol. The exception of this pathway is that, the pathway can function without the presence or help of oxygen. Aerobic respiration inside the human cells produces pyruvate and anaerobic produces lactate. The reaction is –
Glucose + 2 NAD+ + 2 Pi + 2 ADP → 2 pyruvate + 2 NADH + 2 ATP + 2 H+ + 2 H2O + heat
Glucose 6-phosphate is produced when one phosphate is received from the 1 ATP. Glycogen phosphorylase also helps to convert the Glycogen in glucose 6-phosphate. "Sugar splitting" is the literal translation of the whole process.
Krebs cycle – The process is sometimes referred to as the Citric acid cycle or tricarboxylic acid cycle. The process glycolysis creates pyruvate molecules, and these molecules with the presence of oxygen produce acetyl-CoA. Aerobic respiration or anaerobic respiration cannot occur without the formation of acetyl-CoA. With the presence of oxygen, aerobic respiration will take place in the mitochondria that will lead to the Krebs cycle. Without the presence of oxygen, fermentation will occur in the pyruvate molecule. In the Krebs cycle, two acetyl-CoA have to be metabolized to oxidize one glucose molecule. In this cycle, two products of waste are produced, and they are CO2 and H2O.
Oxidative phosphorylation – In Cristae of the mitochondria, the occurrence of oxidative phosphorylation has been seen. The whole process consists of a transport chain of electrons and proton gradient is established covering the boundary of the inner membrane. During this process, the Krebs cycle produces NADH with the help of oxidization. An enzyme called ATP synthase synthesized the ATP when ADP phosphorylation is driven by the chemiosmotic gradient. Water forms when two protons are added, and exogenous oxygen receives the electrons.
Anaerobic respiration: Some of the microorganisms do not the oxygen or pyruvate derivatives as the final acceptor of electron. Nitrate or Sulfate works as the inorganic acceptor.
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