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The Effect of Concentration of

Carbon Dioxide on the Average


Rate of Photosynthesis
Research Question

How does the concentration of carbon dioxide effect the average rate of photosynthesis?

Hypothesis

If the concentration of carbon dioxide is increased then the average rate of photosynthesis will
also increase because carbon dioxide is a reactant in the photosynthesis reaction.

If the concentration of carbon dioxide is decreased then the average rate of photosynthesis will
also decrease because carbon dioxide is a vital reactant for the photosynthesis reaction.

Research/Explanation

Photosynthesis is a complex and vital process to life on Earth. It is a primary source of oxygen
which living beings require to survive. Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction where plants,
algae, and certain bacteria use sunlight and convert it into chemical energy. Carbon dioxide is
a vital reactant in the process of photosynthesis. Light energy (sunlight) is essential to drive the
photosynthesis reaction. The products of the photosynthesis reaction are glucose and oxygen.
The word equation and the balanced chemical reaction used to describe the process of
photosynthesis is:

carbon dioxide + water ➡ glucose + oxygen

6CO2 + 6H2O ➡ C6H12O6 + 6O2

The rate of photosynthesis can be determined by either measuring the consumption of carbon
dioxide in the above reaction or production of oxygen in the above reaction. The experimental
design used in this study determined the average rate of photosynthesis by measuring the
accumulation of oxygen gas which was represented by how long it took for the discs of leaves,
that were completely depleted of any gas, to float.

For this experiment, Romaine lettuce leaves were subjected to vacuum to deplete any gas in
the leaves. A standard hole puncher was used to create 180 equal-sized discs of roman lettuce
leaves to study the effect of the concentration of carbon dioxide. Firstly, sodium bicarbonate
solutions of different concentrations were prepared by mixing baking soda with water. As a
negative control, water was used without any sodium bicarbonate in it (no baking soda was
added). Sodium bicarbonate served as the source of carbon dioxide. Romaine lettuce discs
were divided into 6 sets - 5 sets each for a different concentration of sodium bicarbonate
(0.2%, 0.4%, 0.6%, 0.8%, 1%), and 1 set for negative control. Secondly, all of the gases within
the leaf were drawn out using a vacuum that was created using a syringe. Each experiment
was done in triplicates which means that there were three cups of the same concentration. 10
leaf discs were added into each cup with different concentrations of sodium bicarbonate +
control. The cups were exposed to light for 20 minutes and the number of leaf discs floating in
each cup were measured at regular intervals. The time taken for 50% of the leaf discs to float
(ET50) will be measured and used to represent the rate at which photosynthesis was taking
place. The purpose of calculating the ET50 is that the reciprocal of ET50 represents the rate of
photosynthesis.

Lastly, the hypothesis states that if the concentration of carbon dioxide is increased then the
average rate of photosynthesis will also increase. If the concentration of carbon dioxide is
decreased then the average rate of photosynthesis will also decrease. The scientific reasoning
behind the hypothesis is that as rate of photosynthesis increases, the leaves become lighter
due to the production of oxygen gas, which causes them to float. Therefore, there will be a
direct relationship between the rate of photosynthesis and the concentration of carbon dioxide
by factoring in the time it takes for the romaine lettuce leaf disc to float.

Variables Table

Type of Variable Detail How will this be manipulated,


measured, or controlled?

Independent Variable The concentration of carbon Five different concentrations of


dioxide (percentage %) sodium bicarbonate solutions
will be prepared as follows:
0.2%, 0.4%, 0.6%, 0.8%, 1%.
Sodium carbonate serves as a
source of carbon dioxide gas
which is essential for
photosynthesis. These solutions
are controlled by making them in
triplicates and averaging out the
rate of photosynthesis at the
end. As a control, sodium
bicarbonate from the same
bottle was used.

Dependent Variable The average rate of The rate of photosynthesis in the


photosynthesis (leaf disk floating lettuce leaf disk in each of the
per minute) three cups with a set
concentration was averaged out.
The rate of photosynthesis was
indicated by the ET50
measurement. The length of
exposure to the sunlight will also
be kept constant.

Controlled Variable Leaf disk in water Water, with no sodium


bicarbonate will be used as a
negative control. It is expected
that there will not be any
photosynthesis taking place in
the control cups (also in
triplicates).

Controlled Variable Type of Leaf A total of 180 equal-sized disks


were prepared using a standard
hole punch. As a control, the
same brand and type of
Romaine lettuce will be used.

Materials

1. 18 Plastic Cups

2. Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)

3. Water

4. Romaine Lettuce

5. Graduated Cylinder

6. Electronic Balance Machine

7. Pipette

8. Syringe

9. Stirrer

10. Hole-puncher

11. Safety Goggles

Method

1. Put on safety goggles before starting the experiment.

2. Firstly, prepare five different concentrations of sodium bicarbonate solutions, as indicated


in the chart/table below.

3. Divide each solution with different concentrations into three identical cups.

4. Withdraw all the gases within the leaf disks by creating a vacuum using the syringe. To do
so, remove the piston from the syringe and insert 10 leaf disks into the syringe.

5. Then, reinsert the piston and push it down until only a small amount (if any) of air is left
within the syringe.

6. Next, insert the syringe into the cup of solution and draw out a small amount of liquid
(approximately 3 mL).

7. Tap the syringe to ensure that the leaf disks are suspended into the solution, then invert the
syringe and push the piston until there is no air remaining in the syringe.

8. Create a vacuum by covering the opening of the syringe with a finger and slowly pulling the
piston back, making sure that the leaves are well suspended in the solution. Hold this
position for 10 seconds and gently release the piston, allowing it to return to a neutral
position.

9. The leaf disks should all sink into the solution because all the air has been drawn out of
them. If the disks do not all sink, repeat the process of creating a vacuum, this repetition of
the process however, should not be done more than three times, to prevent damage to the
leaves.

10. Empty each syringe into the appropriate clear plastic cup.

11. Finally, expose each cup to the light source and record the number of leaf disks floating
every minute for twenty minutes.

12. Each trial must be done in triplicate and the data collected should be averaged out and a
graph must be plotted of (concentration of carbon dioxide along the X-axis and average
rate of photosynthesis along the Y-axis — 1/ET50) as well as recorded in an observations
table.

Table for #2 of Method explaining how to make the


different solutions

Concentration of Mass of Sodium ML of Water Final Volume of


Carbon Dioxide Bicarbonate Solution

0.2% 0.2g 100mL 100mL

0.4% 0.4g 100mL 100mL

0.6% 0.6g 100mL 100mL

0.8% 0.8g 100mL 100mL

1.0% 1g 100mL 100mL

Observations Table

Trial Number Concentration of ET50 Rate of


Carbon Dioxide Photosynthesis
(Percentages) (leaf disk floating per
minute)

1 0.2%

2 0.2%

3 0.2%

Trial Number Concentration of ET50 Rate of


Carbon Dioxide Photosynthesis
(Percentages) (leaf disk floating per
minute)

1 0.4%

2 0.4%

3 0.4%

Trial Number Concentration of ET50 Rate of


Carbon Dioxide Photosynthesis
(Percentages) (leaf disk floating per
minute)

1 0.6%

2 0.6%
Trial Number Concentration of ET50 Rate of
Carbon Dioxide Photosynthesis
(Percentages) (leaf disk floating per
minute)
3 0.6%

Trial Number Concentration of ET50 Rate of


Carbon Dioxide Photosynthesis
(Percentages) (leaf disk floating per
minute)

1 0.8%

2 0.8%

3 0.8%

Trial Number Concentration of ET50 Rate of


Carbon Dioxide Photosynthesis
(Percentages) (leaf disk floating per
minute)

1 1.0%

2 1.0%

3 1.0%

Qualitative Observations Table (5 Senses)

Taste Sight Touch Smell Sound

Quantitative Observations Table

A line graph of the data collected would be best suitable to study the effect of concentration of
carbon dioxide on the average rate of photosynthesis. The graph would be plotted with the
concentration of carbon dioxide along the X-axis and the average rate of photosynthesis along
the Y-axis. The title of the graph would be “The Effect of Concentration of Carbon Dioxide on
the Average Rate of Photosynthesis (1/ET50)”.

Statement on Ethics and Safety

Sodium bicarbonate is a basic solution and bases tend to be corrosive in nature. Therefore,
safety precautions are taken throughout the lab by wearing safety goggles and no food or drink
its to be consumed within the vicinity. All chemicals are disposed as per instructions with
safety in mind. Safety is ensured by following proper lab procedure/method.

This experiment does not involve any ethical concerns.

APA Citations/Sources

Brown, A. (n.d). The Effect of Concentration of CO2 on the Average Rate of Photosynthesis in
Spinach Leaf Disks. Sc Junior Academy of Science. Retrieved January 27th, 2018, from https://
scholarcommons.sc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1156&context=jscas

Sommir, O. (2018, December 19). What is the balanced equation of photosynthesis? Quora.
Retrieved January 31st, 2018, from https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-balanced-equation-of-
photosynthesis

Unknown. (n.d). The Effects of Carbon Dioxide and Light on Photosynthesis. New Path
Learning. Retrieved January 28th, 2018, from https://www.newpathonline.com/free-curriculum-
resources/virtual_lab/The_Effects_of_Carbon_Dioxide_and_Light_on_Photosynthesis/
8/8,9,10,11,12,13,14/1880

Unknown. (n.d) Rate of photosynthesis: limiting factors. RSC. Retrieved January 28th, 2018,
from http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/content/filerepository/cmp/00/001/068/
rate%20of%20photosynthesis%20limiting%20factors.pdf

Unknown. (n.d) Photosynthesis. BBC. Retrieved January 30th, 2018, from https://
www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/zs4mk2p/revision/2

Vidyasagar, A. (2018, October 15). What is Photosynthesis? LiveScience. Retrieved January


29th, 2018, from https://www.livescience.com/51720-photosynthesis.html