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UPSC Mains 2022

Each year a large amount of plant material, cellulose, is deposited on the surface of Planet Earth. What are the natural processes this cellulose undergoes before yielding carbon dioxide, water and other end products?

General Studies Paper - 3, Topic: General Science

Dec 30, 2022

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Cellulose is a complex carbohydrate that is found in plant cell walls and is the most abundant organic compound on Earth. When plant material, including cellulose, is deposited on the surface of the Earth, it begins to undergo a series of natural processes that ultimately break down the cellulose and other organic matter into simpler compounds.

 

The first stage of this process is decomposition, which is carried out by microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and invertebrates. Decomposition breaks down the cellulose and other organic matter into simpler compounds, such as sugars and amino acids, which can be used by the decomposers as a source of energy and nutrients.

 

The next stage is the mineralization of the organic matter, which is the process by which the decomposers convert the organic matter into inorganic compounds such as carbon dioxide, water, and mineral nutrients. This process is facilitated by the action of enzymes produced by the decomposers, which break down the organic matter into its constituent parts.

 

Finally, the end products of the decomposition and mineralization process, including carbon dioxide, water, and mineral nutrients, are returned to the environment and can be used by other organisms as a source of energy and nutrients. These processes are an important part of the global carbon cycle and play a key role in maintaining the balance of nutrients in the environment.

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