Edexcel IGCSE Biology

Revision Notes

2.5.4 Practical: Investigating Light & Photosynthesis

Practical: Investigating Light & Photosynthesis

  • Although plants synthesise glucose during photosynthesis, their leaves cannot be tested for its presence as the glucose produced is quickly used up, converted into other substances and transported or stored as starch.
  • Starch is stored in the chloroplasts where photosynthesis occurs so testing a leaf for starch is a reliable indicator of which parts of the leaf are photosynthesising


  • Beakers
  • Leaf tissue
  • Bunsen burner
  • Tripod
  • Gauze platform
  • Prongs
  • Ethanol
  • Apron
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Iodine solution
  • White tile

Investigating the requirement for light in photosynthesis

  • Before testing for starch, complete the following procedure:

Method Part 1

  • Destarch the plant by placing it in a dark cupboard for 24 hours
    • This ensures that any starch already present in the leaves will be used up and will not affect the results of the experiment
  • Following de-starching, partially cover a leaf of the plant with aluminium foil and place the plant in sunlight for a day
  • Remove the covered leaf and test for starch using iodine using the method below

Method Part 2 – Testing the leaf for starch

  • Drop the leaf in boiling water
    • This kills the tissue and breaks down the cell walls
  • Transfer the leaf into hot ethanol in a boiling tube for 5-10 minutes
    • This removes the chlorophyll so colour changes from iodine can be seen more clearly
  • Dip the leaf in boiling water
    • This is done to soften the leaf tissue after being in ethanol
  • Spread the leaf out on a white tile and cover it with iodine solution

Testing a variegated leaf for starch, IGCSE & GCSE Biology revision notes

Testing a leaf for starch

Results and analysis

  • In a green leaf, the entire leaf will turn blue-black as photosynthesis is occurring in all areas of the leaf
  • The area of the leaf that was covered with aluminium foil will remain orange-brown as it did not receive any sunlight and could not photosynthesise, while the area exposed to sunlight will turn blue-black
  • This proves that light is necessary for photosynthesis and the production of starch

Light and photosynthesis, downloadable AS & A Level Biology revision notes
Photosynthesis cannot occur in sections of the leaf where light cannot reach the chloroplasts


  • Care must be taken when carrying out this practical as ethanol is extremely flammable, so at that stage of the experiment, the Bunsen burner should be turned off
  • The safest way to heat the ethanol is in an electric water bath rather than using a beaker over a Bunsen burner with an open flame

Applying CORMS evaluation to practical work

  • When working with practical investigations, remember to consider your CORMS evaluation

CORMS evaluation, downloadable AS & A Level Biology revision notes

CORMS evaluation

  • In this investigation, your evaluation should look something like this:
    • C – We are changing whether there is light or no light
    • O – The leaves will be taken from the same plant or same species, age and size of the plant
    • R – We will repeat the investigation several times to ensure our results are reliable
    • M1 – We will observe the colour change of the leaf when iodine is applied
    • M2 – …after 1 day
    • S – We will control the temperature of the room

Author: Ruth

Ruth graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in Biology and went on to teach Science in London whilst also completing an MA in innovation in Education. With 10 years of teaching experience across the 3 key science disciplines, Ruth decided to set up a tutoring business to support students in her local area. Ruth has worked with several exam boards and loves to use her experience to produce educational materials which make the mark schemes accessible to all students.

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