Why is cellular respiration anabolic?

Answered by Willian Lymon

Cellular respiration is actually a catabolic pathway, not an anabolic one. It is a process that breaks down sugar molecules, such as glucose, to release energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). This energy is used by cells to carry out various functions and maintain their activities.

During cellular respiration, glucose is oxidized, or broken down, in a series of enzymatic reactions. The process begins with glycolysis, which occurs in the cytoplasm of the cell. In glycolysis, glucose is converted into two molecules of pyruvate, resulting in a small amount of ATP production.

The next step is the Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle or tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. This cycle takes place in the mitochondria of the cell. The pyruvate molecules from glycolysis are further oxidized, releasing more ATP, as well as carbon dioxide and high-energy electrons.

The final stage of cellular respiration is the electron transport chain (ETC), which also occurs in the mitochondria. During the ETC, the high-energy electrons generated in the previous steps are transferred along a series of proteins, ultimately leading to the production of a large amount of ATP through a process called oxidative phosphorylation.

While cellular respiration breaks down glucose and other molecules, it is not considered an anabolic pathway because it does not involve the synthesis or assembly of larger molecules. Instead, it is a catabolic pathway because it involves the breakdown of larger molecules into smaller ones, releasing energy in the process.

To understand why cellular respiration is catabolic, let’s consider the overall reaction for the breakdown of glucose:

C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O + energy (as ATP)

In this reaction, glucose and oxygen are the reactants, and carbon dioxide, water, and ATP are the products. The reactants (glucose and oxygen) are larger and more complex molecules compared to the products (carbon dioxide, water, and ATP).

Cellular respiration involves a series of enzyme-catalyzed reactions that break down the bonds within the glucose molecule, releasing the stored energy. This energy is harnessed in the form of ATP, which can be readily used by cells for various biological processes.

Cellular respiration is a catabolic pathway because it breaks down larger molecules (such as glucose) into smaller ones (such as carbon dioxide and water), releasing energy in the process. It is the reverse of photosynthesis, which is an anabolic pathway that builds sugars from smaller molecules using energy from sunlight.