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How is ATP produced and used in living organisms?

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How is ATP produced and used in living organisms? ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is required in all living cells as a continual supply of energy, to be used in processes, which keep the organism alive such as muscle contraction. ATP is made up of three main components, the base (adenine), a phosphate chain (made of three phosphate groups) and a ribose sugar backbone. The energy released from the respiration of Glucose is used to add inorganic phosphate groups to ADP to form ATP. Below is a diagram of ATP. The first step in the production of ATP and the store of energy is Glycolysis, which occurs in both aerobic and anaerobic respiration. In both cases Glycolysis takes place in the cytoplasm of the cell, because glucose is too big to get in to the mitochondria. The process starts with glucose (a six carbon sugar) and two ATP molecules needed to start off the process, (as sugars aren't very reactive) the glucose is transferred to another 6 Carbon Sugar (Fructose Bisphoshate). This breaks it down into two 3Carbon Sugars called Pyruvates. Two ATP molecules per Pyruvate is produced through the condensation reaction of a phosphate group called phosphorylation and ADP (adenosine diphosphate) ...read more.


The Last process takes place on the Cristi of the mitochondria and is called the Electron Transport Chain. This is the most efficient stage of respiration where around 32 molecules of ATP may be produced via a series of redox (oxidation and reduction) reactions. The hydrogen ions are brought by the reduced NAD and reduced FAD; this replenishes the cells supply of hydrogen carriers. The hydrogen atoms are brought at different energy levels depending on the carrier (NAD at the higher energy level). Once these hydrogen ions(+)are on the electron transport chain they are moved along the chain, this happens because each successive carrier on the chain has a higher electro negativity than the carrier one before it, therefore the positive hydrogen ions are pulled along down the chain. While they are being pulled along they also participate in a series of redox reactions, which join the free phosphorous groups to ADP molecules to form the end ATP. (below diagram of Electron Transport Chain) ATP is only produced, as it is required. It releases energy by breaking off the last phosphate group on the phosphate chain, attached with a very unstable covalent bond; the bond is broken by hydrolysis (the addition of water) ...read more.


Muscles need ATP in order for humans and animals to move around, and hunt for food. The cells in our muscles contain a lot more mitochondria, than other cells due to the fact that the muscles require lots of energy to contract and therefore they need lots of mitochondria to help keep up the ATP production to its high demand. ATP is also vital in homeostasis in helping to maintain constant body temperatures e.g. mammals such as polar bears require lots of ATP to help store the heat and prevent it from being lost to the surroundings. Anabolic Reactions also requires ATP. Such as the production of proteins from amino acids (Protein Synthesis), the production of glycogen from glucose and the production of lipids, all require ATP to be formed. Active transport is a process that requires a lot of ATP, as it's the movement of substances against a concentration gradient. An example of this- energy from ATP may be used by carrier proteins to move molecules into the cell against the gradient. The Na / K pump is a carrier protein bringing K into cell and removing Na . In plants, root cells minerals also travel from a low concentration in the soil to a higher concentration within the cell, which requires energy. In conclusion, ATP is the most important energy source in living organisms. Obtained in different ways and amounts. ...read more.

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Overall this is a good solid essay, clearly written and covering the major points. Towards the end it is less well written and looks a little rushed. The last two paragraphs could be extended quite a lot to cover other things on the syllabus. There are a couple of misunderstandings that could be cleared up with some more reading: ideally this essay would also have the names of the textbooks used in a bibliography at the bottom.


Marked by teacher Luke Smithen 23/07/2013

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