The Two Parts of Photosynthesis


This illustration shows a chloroplast with an outer membrane, an inner membrane, and stacks of membranes inside the inner membrane called thylakoids. The entire stack is called a granum. In the light reactions, energy from sunlight is converted into chemical energy in the form of A T P and N A D P H. In the process, water is used and oxygen is produced. Energy from A T P and N A D P H are used to power the Calvin cycle, which produces G A 3 P from carbon dioxide. A T P is broken down to A D P and Pi, and N A D P H is oxidized to N A D P superscript plus sign baseline. The cycle is completed when the light reactions convert these molecules back into A T P and N A D P H.
Photosynthesis takes place in two stages: light-dependent reactions and the Calvin cycle. Light-dependent reactions, which take place in the thylakoid membrane, use light energy to make ATP and NADPH. The Calvin cycle, which takes place in the stroma, uses energy derived from these compounds to make G3P from CO2. Source: OpenStax Biology 2e

OpenStax Biology 2e

Photosynthesis takes place in two sequential stages: the light-dependent reactions and the light-independent reactions. In the light-dependent reactions, energy from sunlight is absorbed by chlorophyll and that energy is converted into stored chemical energy. In the light-independent reactions, the chemical energy harvested during the light-dependent reactions drives the assembly of sugar molecules from carbon dioxide. Therefore, although the light-independent reactions do not use light as a reactant, they require the products of the light-dependent reactions to function. In addition, however, several enzymes of the light-independent reactions are activated by light. The light-dependent reactions utilize certain molecules to temporarily store the energy: These are referred to as energy carriers. The energy carriers that move energy from light-dependent reactions to light-independent reactions can be thought of as “full” because they are rich in energy. After the energy is released, the “empty” energy carriers return to the light-dependent reaction to obtain more energy. The image above illustrates the components inside the chloroplast where the light-dependent and light-independent reactions take place.


Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:


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