- Anaerobic respiration does not require oxygen and is defined as the chemical reactions in cells that break down nutrient molecules to release energy without using oxygen
- It is the incomplete breakdown of glucose and releases a relatively small amount of energy for use in cell processes
- It produces different breakdown products depending on the type of organism it is taking place in
- You need to know the equations for anaerobic respiration in humans (animals) and the microorganism yeast
- Anaerobic respiration mainly takes place in muscle cells during vigorous exercise
- When we exercise vigorously, our muscles have a higher demand for energy than when we are resting or exercising normally. Our bodies can only deliver so much oxygen to our muscle cells for aerobic respiration
- In this instance, as much glucose as possible is broken down with oxygen, and some glucose is broken down without it, producing lactic acid instead
- There is still energy stored within the bonds of lactic acid molecules that the cell could use; for this reason, less energy is released when glucose is broken down anaerobically
- Lactic acid builds up in muscle cells and lowers the pH of the cells (making them more acidic)
- This could denature the enzymes in cells so it needs to be removed
- Cells excrete lactic acid into the blood. When blood passes through the liver, lactic acid is taken up into liver cells where it is oxidised, producing carbon dioxide and water (Lactic acid reacts with oxygen – this is actually aerobic respiration with lactic acid as the nutrient molecule instead of glucose)
- So the waste products of lactic acid oxidation are carbon dioxide and water
- This is the reason we continue to breath heavily and our heart rate remains high even after finishing exercise – we need to transport the lactic acid from our muscles to the liver, and continue getting larger amounts of oxygen into the blood to oxidise the lactic acid
- This is known as ‘repaying the oxygen debt’
It’s easy to get confused about the products of anaerobic respiration in animals – the ONLY product made is lactic acid.
Carbon dioxide is NOT one of the products made in anaerobic respiration in animals – it is made in aerobic respiration!