Biology as Poetry: Physics

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

Energy Transduction

Conversion from one form to another as via the first law of thermodynamics.

Energy can be transduced, for example, from the energy of photons to that associated with ATP, as in the light reaction of photosynthesis, to that associated with the bonds found in carbohydrates (via the dark reaction of photosynthesis) and then back to ATP via catabolic reactions such as glycolysis and cellular respiration.

That is, the energy is changed in form, though according to the first law of thermodynamics, neither created nor destroyed. In addition, at each step, according to the second law of thermodynamics, energy is lost, that is, as waste heat. Not to be confused, by the way, with genetic transduction.

A key aspect of what it is to be an organism is an ability to take in one form of energy, i.e., as an energy source, and then convert that energy into another form, either for immediate use or instead as energy storage until later. Thus, consuming food and then converting it either to ATP or adipose tissue are both examples of energy transduction.

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