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how is oxygen used by living organisms

How is oxygen used by living organisms

How is oxygen used by living organisms

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How is oxygen used by living organisms

How Is Oxygen Used By Living Organisms?

Most living things need oxygen to survive. Oxygen helps organisms grow, reproduce, and turn food into energy. … Although other animals may use different organs to breathe with, they all get oxygen into their bodies through respiration.

Oxygen is vital to living organisms and when it is deficient, portable oxygen units are using to administer oxygen to the patient. In the same way we humans breathe out carbon dioxide, plants absorb it and need it to survive. Humans need oxygen for their cells to keep the body healthy.

Without it, food could not release the energy that a body needs to keep living, and for the carbon dioxide, vital for plants but harmful to humans, to release. In fact, if we do not exercise sufficiently we starve our bodies of oxygen and this is one reason why couch potatoes become sickly. Only planets with oxygen can support life as we know it.

What organisms uses oxygen?

cellular respiration Types. Obligate aerobes need oxygen to grow. In a process known as cellular respiration, these organisms use oxygen to oxidize substrates (for example sugars and fats) and generate energy. Facultative anaerobes use oxygen if it is available, but also have anaerobic methods of energy production.

How are oxygen and carbon dioxide used in living organisms?

In animals, oxygen combines with food in the cells to produce energy for daily activity and then gives off carbon. The carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2) and release back into the atmosphere as a waste product when animals breathe and exhale.

How is oxygen used by living organisms
How is oxygen used by living organisms

Molecular oxygen

Molecular oxygen (O2) is a diatomic molecule that compose of two oxygen atoms held together by a covalent bond. That is essential for life, as it is used for respiration by many organisms. It’s also essential for fossil fuel combustion.

Molecular oxygen is very chemically reactive, and tends to form oxides by reaction with other elements and compounds quite easily. We rely on photosynthesis of plants to replenish the molecular oxygen in the atmosphere – if photosynthesis stopped, eventually the atmospheric oxygen content would drop to near zero.

Since animals (including humans) breathe molecular oxygen and require it for metabolism, it is important medically. Molecular oxygen is providing therapeutically in oxygen therapy and hyperbaric chambers, and is also including in breathing gas for space exploration and SCUBA diving.

Industrially, oxygen uses to remove sulfur and carbon impurities during smelting. Oxygen (as a compressed gas) also uses widely in welding and metal cutting, and as an oxidizer in rocket engines. Oxygen is also important in creating many chemical feedstocks, such as ethylene oxide.


Molecular oxygen is important for combustion – especially in the combustion of fuels for energy. Combustion is the reaction of a compound (the fuel) with an oxidant (which is usually molecular oxygen) to produce oxides. The third component of combustion a “boost” of energy needs in order to start the reaction – the activation energy. All three components (fuel, oxidant, energy) must be present for the combustion reaction to occur.

Combustion of fossil fuels such as methane, shown in Figure 2 below, produces carbon dioxide, water vapour, and energy. Fossil fuel combustion supplies around 95% of the world’s primary energy. Hydrocarbon combustion also contributes to climate change by producing emissions such as carbon dioxide.

While other substances (such as fluorine) can act as oxidizers in combustion, oxygen is the most common. Oxidizers support combustion by accepting electrons from the fuel molecule, making it easier to break the chemical bonds in the reaction. While fluorine is actually a better electron acceptor than oxygen, oxidation by fluorine is too violent to be useful for most applications. Oxygen is also more abundant and easier to find, making it the most common oxidizer for these reactions.

Oxygen’s influence and its role in Human Body

In the human body, the oxygen is absorbed by the blood stream in the lungs, being then transporting to the cells where an elaborating change process takes place.

Oxygen plays a vital role in the breathing processes and in the metabolism of the living organisms.

Probably, the only living cells that do not need oxygen are some anaerobic bacteria that obtain energy from other metabolic processes.

The nutrient compounds, inside of the cell, oxidize through complex enzymatic processes.

This oxidation is the source of energy of most of the animals, mainly of mammals.

The products are carbon dioxide and water (exhaled air has a relative humidity of 100%), which are eliminating by the human body through the lungs.

Appropriate levels of oxygen are vital to support cell respiration. Oxygen plays an important role in the energy metabolism of living organisms.

The living cell is the site of tremendous biochemical activity calling metabolism.

This is the process of chemical and physical change which goes on continually in the human body: build-up of new tissue, replacement of old tissue, conversion of food to energy, disposal of waste materials, reproduction – all the activities that we characterize as “life.”

Research shows that cells have only a “limited number” of cell divisions possible in a human lifetime.

Studies show that by the time you’re 20 most of the cells that make up your body have used up half of the divisions available in their cell lifespan.

By the time you’re 40, there are maybe only 30% of your possible cell divisions left. When the cells use up their natural allotted cell divisions, the end is death!

How is oxygen used by living organisms
How is oxygen used by living organisms

What is the use of Oxygen in living beings?

Oxygen in living beings plays a highly relevant, often vital, role. Through the process known as respiration, oxygen allows a large number of organisms to be kept alive (British & Journal, 2017).

Breathing consists of the metabolic reactions that the cells perform to obtain energy. The organisms that require oxygen for this purpose know as Aerobios; Those who are not, called Anaerobes.

Oxygen also plays an important part in the chemical structure of most components of living things.

It is present in the most basic components such as carbohydrates, sugars, lipids and proteins.

Oxygen and energy in living things

In the aerobic organisms oxygen is necessary for the respiratory process and the obtaining of energy.

However for anaerobic organisms oxygen is not necessary and in many cases is toxic.

Although oxygen is essential for the survival of aerobic organisms, it can also be harmful.

Usually the breathing process generates reactive oxygen molecules that act as toxic substances in a process known as oxidative stress and that damages cells (Magenta, Dellambra, Ciarapica, & Capogrossi, 2016).

There are also organisms that, depending on the environmental conditions, may or may not use oxygen to obtain energy. These organisms are known as facultative.

The Oxygen Revolution

The atmosphere on early Earth was very different than what we have today. It thought that the first atmosphere of the Eart made up of hydrogen and helium, much like the gaseous planets and the Sun. After millions of years of volcanic eruptions and other internal Earth processes, the second atmosphere emerged. This atmosphere was full of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and also contained other types of vapors and gases like water vapor and, to a lesser extent, ammonia and methane.

How is oxygen used by living organisms
How is oxygen used by living organisms


This combination of gases was very inhospitable to most forms of life. While there are many theories, such as the Primordial Soup Theory, Hydrothermal Vent Theory, and the Panspermia Theory of how life began on Earth, it is certain that the first organisms to inhabit the Earth did not need oxygen, as there was no free oxygen in the atmosphere. Most scientists agree that the building blocks of life would not have been able to form if there had been oxygen in the atmosphere at that time.


Even though oxygen gas couldn’t be using directly by living things, oxygen wasn’t all bad for these organisms living during that time. Oxygen gas floated to the top of the atmosphere where it exposed to ultraviolet rays of the sun. Those UV rays split the diatomic oxygen molecules and helped to create ozone, which makes up of three oxygen atoms covalently bonded to one another. The ozone layer helped block some of the UV rays from reaching Earth. This made it safer for life to colonize on land without being susceptible to those damaging rays. Before the ozone layer formed, life had to stay in the oceans where it was protected from the harsh heat and radiation.

First Consumers

With a protective layer of ozone to cover them and plenty of oxygen gas to breathe, heterotrophs were able to evolve. The first consumers to appear were simple herbivores that could eat the plants that survived the oxygen laden atmosphere. Since oxygen was so plentiful in these early stages of colonization of land, many of the ancestors of the species we know today grew to enormous sizes. There is evidence that some types of insects grew to be the size of some of the larger types of birds.

More heterotrophs could then evolve as there were more food sources. These heterotrophs happened to release carbon dioxide as a waste product of their cellular respiration. The give and take of the autotrophs and heterotrophs were able to keep levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere steady.


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