CATEGORY: VCE 3 & 4 Biology

Photosynthesis in C3, C4 and CAM Plants

Course Access: Lifetime
Course Overview

This course begins with an overview of photosynthesis before covering the light dependent and independent reactions in more detail. An understanding of these reactions are essential in order to compare C3, C4 and CAM plants in the following section. Rubisco is an enzyme used to speed up the fixation of carbon dioxide in the Calvin cycle. CRISPR cas9 is explored as biotechnology for improving the efficiency of the rubisco enzyme and other plant modifications to cope with increasing carbon dioxide and temperature levels brought about by climate change.


Photosynthesis, the set of chemical reactions that produces glucose and oxygen from water and carbon dioxide using the sun’s energy and specialised organelles, occurs in all plants, cyanobacteria and some protists such as algae. The glucose created is then converted into other useful products which not only supply us with food but also materials (paper, wood) and medicines. At the same time, photosynthetic organisms are believed to be converting 100-115 billion tons of carbon into biomass each year.

Year Level: 12

Prior Knowledge:

This program builds on a basic knowledge of photosynthesis.

Course Connections:

Does this course link to other Ecolinc programs?

This course is recommended as pre-learning for Ecolinc’s VCE Biology Unit 3 program:

How biochemical pathways are regulated – Photosynthesis’

Learning Intentions:

In this program, students will:

  • become familiar with the inputs, outputs and locations of the light dependent and light independent stages of photosynthesis in C3plants
  • explore the electron transport chain and Calvin cycle
  • compare C3, C4 and CAM plants
  • analyse CRISPR cas9 and see how it may be used to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis and our crops

Estimated duration: 45 minutes

VCE Area of Study:

Biology Unit 3: Outcomes 1 & 2

    • the function of CRISPR-Cas9 in bacteria and the application of this function in editing an organism’s genome
    • inputs, outputs and locations of the light dependent and light independent stages of photosynthesis in C3 plants
    • the role of Rubisco in photosynthesis, including adaptations of C3, C4 and CAM plants to maximise the efficiency of photosynthesis
    • potential uses and applications of CRISPR-Cas9 technologies to improve photosynthetic efficiencies and crop yields

Course Design: David Tait