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

Boom! Here's How to Create Your Own Volcanic Eruption...
Why Do Plants Need Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration?
How Does a Plant Convert Light Energy to Chemical Energy?
How Are Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration Related?
How to Calculate the Efficiency of Glycolysis
What Happens During Photosynthesis in Plants?
What Is Nadph in Photosynthesis?
How Does the Sun Affect the Food Web?
What Are the Functions of Photosynthesis?
What Is the Relationship Between CO2 & Oxygen in Photosynthesis?
What Is Produced As a Result of Photosynthesis?
Importance of Aerobic Cellular Respiration
10 Facts on Photosynthesis
What Are the Four Major Methods of Producing ATP?
How Do Plants Store Excess Sugar?
What Is the Formula for Cellular Respiration?
How Does Photosynthesis Work in Plants?
The Differences Between Monosaccharides & Polysaccharides
List of Cell Organelles & Their Functions
Nucleic Acid Facts
What Kind of Energy Makes Muscle Cells Contract?