Cellular Respiration

Blake Lockwood


The human body has to have energy in order to perform the functions that allow life. This energy comes from the process of cellular respiration. Cellular respiration releases energy that the body can use in the form of ATP from carbohydrates by using oxygen. Cellular respiration is not just one singular reaction, it is a metabolic pathway made up of several reactions that are enzyme mediated. This process begins with glycolysis in the cytosol of the cell. In glycolysis, glucose is split into two three-carbon compounds called pyruvate, producing a small amount of ATP The final two steps of cellular respiration occur in the mitochondria. These final two steps are the electron transport system and the Krebs Cycle. The overall equation for cellular respiration is

C6H12O6 + 6O2 -> 6CO2 + 6H2O + 686 kilocalories of energy per mole of glucose oxidized.

There are three ways to measure the rate of cellular respiration. These three ways are by measuring the consumption of oxygen gas, by measuring the production of carbon dioxide, or by measuring the release of energy during cellular respiration. In order to measure the gases, the general gas law must be understood. The general gas law state: PV=nRT where P is the pressure of the gas, V is the volume of the gas, n is the number of molecules of gas, R is the gas constant, and T is the temperature of the gas (in K). The gas law also shows concepts about gases. If temperature and pressure are kept constant, then the volume of the gas is directly proportional to the number of molecules of the gas. If the temperature and volume remain constant, then the pressure of the gas changes in direct proportion to the number of molecules of gas present. If the number of gas molecules and the temperature remain constant, then the pressure is inversely proportional to the volume. If the temperature changes and the number of gas molecules is kept constant, then either pressure of volume will change in direct proportion to the temperature.

In this experiment, the rate of cellular respiration will be measured by measuring the oxygen gas consumption by using a respirometer in water. This experiment measures the consumption of oxygen by germinating and non-germinating at room temperature and at ice water temperature. The carbon dioxide produced in cellular respiration will be removed by potassium hydroxide (KOH). As a result of the carbon dioxide being removed, the change in the volume of gas in the respirometer will be directly related to the amount of oxygen consumed. The respirometer with glass beads alone will show any changes in volume due to atmospheric pressure changes or temperature changes.


The germinating peas will have a higher rate of respiration, than the beads and non-germinating peas.


This lab requires two thermometers, two water baths, beads, germinating and non-germinating peas, beads, six vials, twelve pipettes, 100 mL graduated cylinder, scotch tape, tap water, ice, KOH, absorbent and non-absorbent cotton, six washers, six rubber stoppers, scotch tape, and a one mL dropper.


Start the experiment by setting up two water baths, one at room temperature and the other at 10 degrees Celsius. Then, find the volume of twenty-five germinating peas. Next, put 50 mL of water in a graduated cylinder and put twenty-five non-germinating peas in it. Then, add beads until the volume is the same as twenty-five germinating peas. Next, pour our the peas and beads, refill the graduated cylinder with 50 mL of water, and add only beads until the volume is the same as the twenty-five germinating peas. Repeat these steps for another set of peas and beads. Also, put together the six respirometers by gluing a pipette to a stopper and taping another pipette to the pipette for all six respirometers. Then, put two absorbent cotton balls, several drops of KOH, and half of a piece of non-absorbent cotton into all six vials. Next, add the peas and beads to the appropriate respirometers. Place one set of respirometers into the room temperature water bath and the other set in the ice water bath. Elevate the respirometers by setting the pipettes onto masking tape and allow them to equilibrate for five minutes. Next, lower the respirometers into the water baths and take reading at 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20 minutes. Record the results in the table.



Beads Alone

Germinating Peas

Dry Peas and Beads

Reading at time X


Reading at time X


Corrected Diff.


Reading at time X


Corrected Diff.






0 to 5









5 to 10









10 to 15









15 to 20