Plant physiology is a subdiscipline of botany concerned with the functioning, or physiology, of plants. Closely related fields include plant morphology (structure of plants), plant ecology (interactions with the environment), phytochemistry (biochemistry of plants), cell biology, genetics, biophysics and molecular biology.
Fundamental processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, plant nutrition, plant hormone functions, tropisms, nastic movements, photoperiodism, photomorphogenesis, circadian rhythms, environmental stress physiology, seed germination, dormancy and stomata function and transpiration, both parts of plant water relations, are studied by plant physiologists.
Cellular respiration is the set of the metabolic reactions and processes that take place in the cells of organisms to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and then release waste products. The reactions involved in respiration are catabolic reactions, which break large molecules into smaller ones, releasing energy in the process as weak so-called "high-energy" bonds are replaced by stronger bonds in the products. Respiration is one of the key ways a cell gains useful energy to fuel cellular activity. Cellular respiration is considered an exothermic redox reaction. The overall reaction is broken into many smaller ones when it occurs in the body, most of which are redox reactions themselves. Although technically, cellular respiration is a combustion reaction, it clearly does not resemble one when it occurs in a living cell. This difference is because it occurs in many separate steps. While the overall reaction is a combustion reaction, no single reaction that comprises it is a combustion reaction.
Nutrients that are commonly used by animal and plant cells in respiration include sugar, amino acids and fatty acids, and a common oxidizing agent (electron acceptor) is molecular oxygen (O2). The energy stored in ATP (its third phosphate group is weakly bonded to the rest of the molecule and is cheaply broken allowing stronger bonds to form, thereby transferring energy for use by the cell) can then be used to drive processes requiring energy, including biosynthesis, locomotion or transportation of molecules across cell membranes.
A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Classically, chemical reactions encompass changes that only involve the positions of electrons in the forming and breaking of chemical bonds between atoms, with no change to the nuclei (no change to the elements present), and can often be described by a chemical equation. Nuclear chemistry is a sub-discipline of chemistry that involves the chemical reactions of unstable and radioactive elements where both electronic and nuclear changes may both occur.
The substance (or substances) initially involved in a chemical reaction are called reactants or reagents. Chemical reactions are usually characterized by a chemical change, and they yield one or more products, which usually have properties different from the reactants. Reactions often consist of a sequence of individual sub-steps, the so-called elementary reactions, and the information on the precise course of action is part of the reaction mechanism. Chemical reactions are described with chemical equations, which graphically present the starting materials, end products, and sometimes intermediate products and reaction conditions.
Food energy is energy that animals (including humans) derive from their food, through the process of cellular respiration, the process of joining oxygen with the molecules of food (aerobic respiration) or of reorganizing the atoms within the molecules for anaerobic respiration.
Humans and other animals need a minimum intake of food energy to sustain their metabolism and drive their muscles. Foods are composed chiefly of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, water, vitamins, and minerals. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water represent virtually all the weight of food, with vitamins and minerals making up only a small percentage of the weight. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins comprise ninety percent of the dry weight of foods. Food energy is derived from carbohydrates, fats and proteins as well as organic acids, polyols, and ethanol present in the diet. Some diet components that provide little or no food energy, such as water, minerals, vitamins and fiber, may still be necessary to health and survival for other reasons. Water contains very stable chemical bonds and so cannot be oxidized to provide energy. Vitamins and minerals are present in very small amounts (in milli- or micrograms) and also cannot be used for energy. Fiber, a type of carbohydrate, cannot be completely digested by the human body. Ruminants can extract food energy from the respiration of cellulose thanks to bacteria in their rumens.