What is the equation that shows what happens at the cellular level when you breathe?

Expert Answers
mr-angel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Its called the formula for Cellular Respiration. Human breathing is critical to making this process work.  The end point of Cellular Respiration is the ATP, or energy molecule.  Why does this matter?  What happens when you quit breathing?  Cells in the brain stop producing ATP and very quickly the brain starts to have problems!

Oxygen + Glucose   yields Carbon Dioxide + Water + Energy

O2        + C6H12O6  ->    CO2               +  H20   + ATP

For plants, the process is paired up with Photosynthesis as they can both make their own food and transform the food into energy the organism can use.

Carbon Dioxide + water + energy yields Oxygen + glucose

CO2               + H2O   + sunlight ->   O2         + C6H12O6

Cool deal, as these two equations are easy to remember as opposites!

ebaker13 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The equation that you are asking for is called cellular respiration.  Cellular respiration requires oxygen to burn glucose to make energy.  Glycolysis is the first part of the reaction that occurs where glucose is broken into two pyruvic acids.  Glycolysis occurs in the cytoplasm of the cell.  The pyruvic acids then enter the Krebs Cycle, which occurs in the cristae of the mitochondria, where CO2 is released and ADP is made.  ADP then enters into the electron transport chain where the bulk of the ATP (energy) is made.  When cell respiration goes into the Krebs cycle this is called aerobic respiration because it requires oxygen to occur.  The equation for this reaction is:

6 O2 + C6H12O6  yields 6 CO2 + 6H20 + ATP

O2 = oxygen    C6H12O6 = glucose     CO2 = carbon dioxide   H20 = water    ATP = energy molecule  

giorgiana1976 | Student

O2+C6H12O6 ->H20+CO2+Energy,

where C6H12O6 is glucose, O2 is oxygen, H20 is water and CO2 is carbon dioxide.


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