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Is the water sole source of oxygen released during photosynthesis?

to this question can be figured out in a simple but obvious way; that is an
intuitive way
An Internet site says, Water is the source of oxygen released during photosynthesis. : Numerous other
Internet sites also say the same. I have found a simple but obvious way to judge whether the
statement is true or not, an intuitive examination of equation for photosynthesis.
First of all, let us decide which equation for photosynthesis is correct. It seems that there are two
equations for photosynthesis being used currently.
6CO2 + 6H2O C6H12O6 + 6O2

(1), and

6CO2 + 12H2O C6H12O6 + 6O2.+ 6H2O (2).

According to my quick survey on Internet, equation (1) is more frequently used than equation
(2); out of 65 cases surveyed, in 50 cases equation (1) is used. In fact equation (2) is not
acceptable in view of the rule of algebra. The rule says in any equation like terms are not
allowed on both sides of an equation. In equation (2) the terms of H2O are like terms and are
on both sides of equation. Thus equation (2) is not acceptable as an authentic equation for

Now, with equation (1), we can figure out the fates of elements (C, H and O) involved in
photosynthesis in following way (an intuitive way).

6CO2 + 6H2O C6H12O6 + 6O2

Elements in inputs re-expressed: 6C 6O 6O + 12H 6O

Arrows show whereto of elements

Elements in outputs re-expressed: 6C 12H 6O + 12O (6O2 --- each 3O2 from H2O and CO2)
Above diagram clearly shows that oxygen released during photosynthesis is originated from
both water and carbon dioxide, not from water alone.
There is one more intuitive way to figure out that oxygen released during photosynthesis cannot
be originated from water alone
Let us eamine the molecular formula of glucose, a product of photosynthesis: C 6H12O6. The ratio
of C to O in glucose is 1 : 1, while the ratio of C to O in carbon dioxide is 1 : 2. This tells that
during the photosynthesis, out of 12 oxygen atoms in 6 moles of carbon dioxide, 6 oxygen atoms
are used for the synthesis of glucose and the remaining 6 oxygen atoms should be released as 3
moles of oxygen gas.
To see whether oxygen in carbon dioxide is released as oxygen gas during the photosynthesis, I
have conducted an experiment. For the experiment I used 18O-enriched carbon dioxide (with
abundance of 95%, obtained from Cambridge Isotope Laboratories Inc., USA). In the

experiment I allowed a green plant (pothos; Epripremnum aureum) to undergo photosynthesis in

the presence of different carbon dioxides; ordinary carbon dioxide and 18O-enriched carbon
dioxide in a chamber securely protected from mixing of ambient air. I collected the air samples
from the camber after the termination of each experiment with different carbon dioxide, and
analyzed the air samples to know whether oxygen in the carbon dioxide is released during
photosynthesis by the plant. I also took leaf sap samples and analyzed for the abundance of 18O,
to know whether oxygen in the carbon dioxide is left in the plant leaf sap as a component of
glucose. The results showed that part of oxygen in carbon dioxide was released as oxygen gas
and part of it remained in the leaf sap, indicating that part of oxygen in carbon dioxide is gone
to glucose as a component of glucose. See the Tables 1 and 2.

The analysis of abundance of 18O was done at the Isotopes Laboratory of Korea Basic Science
Institute, Ochang, Chungbuk Province, Republic of Korea, using modern instruments like Delta
V Plus IRMS2 interfaced with Gasbench II(Thermo Scientific. Bremen Germany) and Stable
Isotope Mass Spectrometer Isoprime model (GV Instrument Ltd. UK).

Two Tables above clearly show that part of oxygen in carbon dioxide is released as
oxygen gas and part of it is left in the leaf sap as the component of glucose.

Warning: This document has not been published in any journal yet (in fact, in the
process of looking for a journal for publication), thus it is not allowed to copy part or
entire document for citing without with the permission of the author. Any question on
the content of this document is welcomed at, My name is
Chong Woon Hong, an agriculturist with soil chemistry background. Currently, I am an
independent researcher retired from the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences,

Rural Development Administration, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Republic of

Korea. This document is not the full paper of mine.