- Define fermentation.
- Describe lactic acid fermentation and alcoholic fermentation.
- Compare the advantages of aerobic and anaerobic respiration.
- alcoholic fermentation
- type of anaerobic respiration that includes glycolysis followed by the conversion of pyruvic acid to ethanol and carbon dioxide and the formation of NAD+
- type of anaerobic respiration that includes glycolysis followed by the conversion of pyruvic acid to one or more other compounds and the formation of NAD+
- lactic acid fermentation
- type of anaerobic respiration that includes glycolysis followed by the conversion of pyruvic acid to lactic acid and the formation of NAD+
Today, most living things use oxygen to make ATP from glucose. However, many living things can also make ATP without oxygen. This is true of some plants and fungi and also of many bacteria. These organisms use aerobic respiration when oxygen is present, but when oxygen is in short supply, they use anaerobic respiration instead. Certain bacteria can only use anaerobic respiration. In fact, they may not be able to survive at all in the presence of oxygen.
Here is a video that shows apple cider fermentation bubbles:
Lactic Acid Fermentation
In lactic acid fermentation, pyruvic acid from glycolysis changes to lactic acid. This is shown in Figure below. In the process, NAD+ forms from NADH. NAD+, in turn, lets glycolysis continue. This results in additional molecules of ATP. This type of fermentation is carried out by the bacteria in yogurt. It is also used by your own muscle cells when you work them hard and fast.
Did you ever run a race and notice that your muscles feel tired and sore afterward? This is because your muscle cells used lactic acid fermentation for energy. This causes lactic acid to build up in the muscles. It is the buildup of lactic acid that makes the muscles feel tired and sore. Good thing this isn’t a textbook or maybe your arms would be feeling sore right now. Yay technology!
In alcoholic fermentation, pyruvic acid changes to alcohol and carbon dioxide. This is shown in Figure below. NAD+ also forms from NADH, allowing glycolysis to continue making ATP. This type of fermentation is carried out by yeasts and some bacteria. It is used to make bread, wine, and biofuels.
Have your parents ever put corn in the gas tank of their car? They did if they used gas containing ethanol. Ethanol is produced by alcoholic fermentation of the glucose in corn or other plants. This type of fermentation also explains why bread dough rises. Yeasts in bread dough use alcoholic fermentation and produce carbon dioxide gas. The gas forms bubbles in the dough, which cause the dough to expand. The bubbles also leave small holes in the bread after it bakes, making the bread light and fluffy. Do you see the small holes in the slice of bread in Figure below?
P.S. If you take my Chemistry in the Kitchen course in the future (which doesn’t even have a textbook or require math, YAY!), you will get to bake some homemade bread and eat it, and that counts as SCHOOL WORK!
Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Respiration: A Comparison
Aerobic respiration is useful today because the atmosphere is 21% oxygen. However, God also created some anaerobic organisms to be able to live in places where there isn’t very much oxygen.
Advantages of Aerobic Respiration
A major advantage of aerobic respiration is the amount of energy it releases. Without oxygen, organisms can just split glucose into two molecules of pyruvate. This releases only enough energy to make two ATP molecules. With oxygen, organisms can break down glucose all the way to carbon dioxide. This releases enough energy to produce up to 38 ATP molecules. Thus, aerobic respiration releases much more energy than anaerobic respiration.
Advantages of Anaerobic Respiration
One advantage of anaerobic respiration is obvious. It lets organisms live in places where there is little or no oxygen. Such places include deep water, soil, and the digestive tracts of animals such as humans (see Figure below).
A quick video about E. Coli:
Another advantage of anaerobic respiration is its speed. It produces ATP very quickly. For example, it lets your muscles get the energy they need for short bursts of intense activity (see Figure below). Aerobic respiration, on the other hand, produces ATP more slowly.
The muscles of these hurdlers need to use anaerobic respiration for energy. It gives them the energy they need for the short-term, intense activity of this sport.
Watch this video about fermentation:
- Fermentation is a way of making ATP from glucose without oxygen. There are two types of fermentation: lactic acid fermentation and alcoholic fermentation.
- Lactic acid fermentation changes pyruvic acid to lactic acid and forms NAD+. The NAD+ allows glycolysis to continue so it can make more ATP.
- Alcohol fermentation changes pyruvic acid to ethanol and carbon dioxide and forms NAD+. Again, the NAD+ allows glycolysis to keep making ATP.
- Aerobic respiration produces much more ATP than anaerobic respiration. However, anaerobic respiration occurs more quickly.
Lesson Review Questions
1. What is fermentation?
2. Name two types of fermentation.
3. What is the main advantage of aerobic respiration? Of anaerobic respiration?
4. What process produces fuel for motor vehicles from living plant products? What is the waste product of this process?
5. Tanya is on the high school track team and runs the 100-meter sprint. Marissa is on the cross-country team and runs 5-kilometer races. Explain which type of respiration the muscle cells in each runner’s legs use.
6. Compare and contrast lactic acid fermentation and alcoholic fermentation. Include examples of organisms that use each type of fermentation.
7. Explain why bread dough rises when it is set aside in a warm place.
Points to Consider
Two important functions of cells are making food and using it for energy. Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are the processes that carry out these functions. Other important functions of cells are growing and dividing.
- Do you know how cells grow? What do you think controls the growth of cells?
- How do you think cells divide? Do all cells divide in the same way?
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