Photosynthesis Online

Larry Orr (ASU) and Govindjee (UIUC)

The Internet and the hypertext user interface known as the World Wide Web (WWW or Web) have become very important resources for public awareness and for educating the world’s population, including its political leaders, students, researchers, teachers and ordinary citizens seeking information.

Only a few online sites were available when the first version of this paper appeared (Orr and Govindjee 1999) and finding information was difficult as search engines were still undergoing development. Concurrent with the rise of modern search engines, thousands of sites appeared, necessitating later revisions of this paper (Orr and Govindjee 2001, 2007). So much more has happened in the past three years that yet a new version was necessary (Orr and Govindjee 2010). Audio presentations and lectures (podcasts) have become very popular at universities. Videos featuring lectures and student presentations that were rare are now ubiquitous on YouTube and other providers. Some of the videos are superb and fantastic, though often ephemeral in nature. We recommend that both undergraduate and graduate students watch out for good videos and send us ( and their comments that could help us rate the various videos for future reference. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become a quick way to disseminate breaking scientific news. One caveat when looking at YouTube and other sites is that most of these sites feature comment sections where users can post comments, some of which may be made by unknowledgeable persons and may not be appropriate or have anything to do with the topic. Many sites rely on advertising for their support, please be patient with the commercials and advertisements, as the sites cannot exist without them.

This review presents relevant information on photosynthesis-related information grouped into several categories: (1) group sites, (2) sites by subject, (3) individual researcher’s sites, (4) sites for educators and students, (5) other useful sites. Because of time and length restrictions, as well as the dynamic nature of the Web, it is impossible to include every worthy Web site in this review. Thus, we will highlight a few of the sites that we think epitomize the best the Web has to offer. Sites chosen for discussion will usually have a significant amount of information on one or more photosynthesis research areas and may include illustrations, movies and links to other sites of importance. Our sincere apologies to anyone whose site we have overlooked. (If the reader is aware of a good site, which is not mentioned in this article, we ( and would like to be informed so we can include it in our Web-based version of this review.)

The contents of this review are located at and mirrored at These sites are updated independently of the printed version of the original review that appeared in Photosynthesis Research. If you have access to the original paper, we recommend you check out the Web version as many of the links mentioned in the paper will move or disappear over time and many new ones may be added. We will try to keep the Web version revised over time.

As a prologue to our main article, we quote a rather poetic and beautiful description of photosynthesis:

When the light shone on the greenness, the greenness welcomed it, and comprehended it, and put it to use. The greenness was chlorophyll, a pigment. It was arranged in pools and the sunlight’s energy bounced from one molecule to the next like a frog across lily pads before reaching the subtle trap at the pool’s centre, the three-billion-year-old trap where the light of the sun becomes the stuff of the earth. As the trap’s jaws snapped shut on the sunlight, the spring that powered those jaws pulled electrons from a nearby water molecule, breaking it up into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen was used, along with the stream of electrons that flowed up through the trap, to turn carbon dioxide into organic matter. The oxygen was discarded.

Oliver Morton (2008) Eating the Sun: How Plants power the Planet. Harper Collins Publishers.

This Website is based on the Review: Photosynthesis Online. Photosynth Res (2010) 105: 167–200, DOI: 10.1007/s11120-010-9570-8


Orr L and Govindjee (1999) Photosynthesis and the World Wide Web. In: Garab, G. (ed) Photosynthesis: Mechanisms and Effects, Vol V, pp 4387–4392

Orr L and Govindjee (2001) Photosynthesis and the Web: 2001. Photosynth Res 68: 1–28

Orr L and Govindjee (2007) Photosynthesis and the Web: 2008. Photosynth Res 91:107–131

Orr L and Govindjee (2010) Photosynthesis Online. Photosynth Res 105: 167–200.

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