What Are the Functions of Carbohydrates in Plants?

Sunlight provides plants with the energy they need in the form of carbohydrates.
••• Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Like all living organisms, plants require energy in chemical form so they can grow and carry out basic life functions. Plants produce, store and burn carbohydrates in the form of sugar to provide themselves with energy.

Photosynthesis

People and animals obtain their energy by consuming foods that contain carbohydrates. Plants, on the other hand, synthesize their own carbohydrates. Each green cell contains the machinery to harvest light energy and use that energy to break up carbon dioxide and water. The rearrangement of these molecules results in glucose, a carbohydrate.

Cellular Respiration

Like other organisms, plants store carbohydrates and burn them for energy. This process, called cellular respiration, breaks down the carbohydrate molecules produced during photosynthesis, releasing energy to power the plant's life processes.

Food Source

The considerable difference in how plants and animals generate energy is significant for all life on Earth. Without plants, the abundant energy beating down from the sun would go unused. When plants produce sugars from sunlight, they make those carbohydrates available to organisms that consume the plants as food. This forms the basis of the planet's food webs.

Related Articles

Why Do Plants Need Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration?
What Happens During Photosynthesis in Plants?
How Does a Plant Convert Light Energy to Chemical Energy?
How to Calculate the Efficiency of Glycolysis
How Are Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration Related?
10 Facts on Photosynthesis
How Does the Sun Affect the Food Web?
How to Make a Simple Circuit
What Are the Functions of Photosynthesis?
What Is the Sun's Role in Photosynthesis?
What Is Nadph in Photosynthesis?
How Does an Ecosystem Survive?
Importance of Aerobic Cellular Respiration
What Is Produced As a Result of Photosynthesis?
Where Is Starch Stored in Plant Cells?
How to Convert KWH to KVA
What Happens During Stage One of Photosynthesis?
What Is the Relationship Between CO2 & Oxygen in Photosynthesis?
How are Respiration & Combustion of Gasoline Similar?