While animals hunt and find our food, plants are required to make their own food. Plants accomplish making their food through a process called “photosynthesis” where they convert sunlight into the energy that they need.

Looking at a plant you might not think it’s very sophisticated, but each plant cell contains an organelle called the chloroplast that gives them the ability to make their food from sunlight.

Each plant cell has many chloroplast organelles and they work together in a balanced way so that they can create food for the cell.

Inside each of the chloroplasts there are tons of smaller chlorophyll molecules and these are the factory workers that are busy making the cell’s food.

They are the controllers of photosynthesis. Each chlorophyll molecule takes the light from the sun’s energy and transforms it into water and then takes carbon dioxide and changes that into sugar and oxygen.

It is the chlorophyll that gives plant their green color.

Photosynthesis: Important for all

Chloroplasts are very small organelles inside plants that are pill-shaped or oval. Chloroplasts are green because they are jam-packed with chlorophyll molecules that are green.

Chlorophyll are experts at capturing the sun’s energy and using it in the process of photosynthesis where they create the sugar and oxygen that is commonly called “plant food.”

The oxygen that is given off by every plant is critical for the survival of almost every living creature on earth.

A majority of the oxygen that we breathe is thanks to the plants and chloroplasts are the controllers. You might say that we owe our existence to chloroplasts and chlorophyll.

Chloroplast anatomy

There are six parts to the anatomy of chloroplasts and each plays an important role in their function.

There are the inner and outer membranes of the chloroplast. The inner membrane surrounds two parts: the stroma and the grana. The grana are stacks of what are called thylakoids and each of these stacks is called a granum.

Chlorophyll molecules sit on top of each of the thylakoids to trap the sun’s energy. As molecules become rich with this energy they move over to the stoma where carbon is attached and it can make the sugars that it needs for food.

The stoma lamellae connect the stacks of thylakoid sacs and act as a kind of skeleton for the chloroplast. This ensures that the sacs are perfectly separated from each other and makes sure that each organelle is running at top efficiency.

This may sound like a lot of names and functions, and it is. The entire process has probably changed your mind about plants and now you know that they aren’t so simple.

Fun Facts about Chloroplasts

  • Moving to the best spot – To have the best efficiency in absorbing light, chloroplasts have to be separated from each other. To accomplish this, chloroplasts will sometimes move around inside the sell so that they have the best position.
  • The name is Greek – The word “chloroplast” is derived from the Greek word for green: “chloros.”
  • Chloroplasts are seen from outer space – Although chloroplasts are very small, every plant on our planet that is green can be seen from outer space. This makes chloroplasts the smallest little big organism in the world.
  • Not Just Green – There are really two different chlorophyll colors. The most common type is Chlorophyll A, which is green; but there is also a brownish or golden color called Chlorophyll C.
  • Chloroplast population Explosion – If you look at a single square millimeter of a leaf you will find around 500,000 chloroplasts.
  • The most popular protein – The protein that is most abundant in chloroplasts is a protein called “Rubisco.” It’s believed that Rubisco is possibly the most abundant protein on the planet.

Interesting Facts about Biology

  • There are some fern species that have been on the earth for over 350 million years.
  • We usually don’t think of plants as being aggressive, however, there are around 600 different plant species that are carnivorous and eat small animals and insects.
  • Cotton has a natural chemical that it produces that fights off bacteria and fungus.
  • Our left lung is around 10% smaller than the lung on our left side. This is so that there is enough room for our heart.
  • Our tears help to cleanse the eyes and keep them moist, but scientists still can’t explain why humans cry when we are upset.
  • If you have ever seen a picture of the human brain you would know that it is covered in wrinkles. If all of these wrinkles were spread out, it would be the size of a standard pillow case.

Chloroplast Quiz

Now let's test what you have learned!