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Saccharum officinarum

All life depends on the ability for green plants to trap and utilize the sun's energy and convert this energy into useful material such as sucrose, starch, and cellulose.  Saccharum officinarum is particularily efficient in producing an excess amount of sucrose. In fact  This process of taking in light energy and converting it into other substances is called photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis allows plants to make their own food which deems them as autotrophs.  For further information on different organisms that use photosynthesis to get their nutrients check out the chocolate producing Cacao Tree and the lawn pest the Dandelion.

Photosynthesis diagram from Wikimedia Commons.

In order for photosynthesis to occur light energy must be trapped from sun rays.  This takes place within two photosystems depicted by the green 'light reactions' box in the diagram.  These light reactions are also known as the light-dependant reaction.  Plants contain special structures within their cells called chloroplasts which control and contain the photosynthetic reaction taking place.  Chloroplasts are composed of molecules called chlorophyll which aids in trapping light energy.  Chlorophyll is the pigment which gives plants their green color.  Once the plants traps the light energy it enters into the portion of photosynthesis called the Calvin Cycle which is the light-independent reaction.  The Calvin Cycle takes the energy captured during the light dependent reaction to convert water and carbon dioxide into glucose and oxygen that can be used by the organism.

Transportation of water throughout the sugar cane plant is another important concept to understand when it comes to learning how plants grow.  Stem Cross-Section from WikimediaWater is transported up the stem from the roots by specialized cells called the xylem.  Xylem has the ability to pull water up the stem by the properties of transpiration, adhesion, cohesion, and tension.  Water evaporates from the leaves leading to an increased solute concentration.  This allows the water from the xylem to move into the mesophyll cells because water always moves from an area of high water potential to a lower water potential.  Phloem, on the other hand, deals with the transportation of sugar down the plant from the source, usually the leaves, to the sink, any growing storing or metabolizing tissue.  I only grazed the tip of the iceberg on transportation.  If you would like to learn more about this interesting aspect of plant growth please go to Transportation on the web.

Now that we've learned all we need to know about sugar cane's nutrition, follow me on our journey to find out where sugar cane is found in Habitat & Geography.