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The Calvin cycle is part of photosynthesis, which occurs in two stages. In the first stage, chemical reactions use energy from light to produce ATP and NADPH. In the second stage (Calvin cycle or dark reactions), carbon dioxide and water are converted into organic molecules, such as glucose. Although the Calvin cycle may be called the "dark reactions," these reactions don't actually occur in the dark or during nighttime. The reactions require reduced NADP, which comes from a light-dependent reaction. The Calvin cycle consists of:
Carbon fixation - Carbon dioxide (CO2) is reacted to produce glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (G3P). The enzyme RuBisCO catalyzes the carboxylation of a 5-carbon compound to make a 6-carbon compound that splits in half to form two 3-phosphoglycerate (3-PGA) molecules. The enzyme phosphoglycerate kinase catalyzes phosphorylation of 3-PGA to form 1,3-biphosphoglycerate (1,3BPGA).
Reduction reactions - The enzyme glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase catalyzes reduction of 1,3BPGA by NADPH.
Ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) regeneration - At the end of the regeneration, the net gain of the set of reactions is one G3P molecule per 3 carbon dioxide molecules.
Calvin Cycle Chemical Equation
The overall chemical equation for the Calvin cycle is:
3 CO2 + 6 NADPH + 5 H2O + 9 ATP → glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P) + 2 H+ + 6 NADP+ + 9 ADP + 8 Pi (Pi = inorganic phosphate)
Six runs of the cycle are required to produce one glucose molecule. Surplus G3P produced by the reactions can be used to form a variety of carbohydrates, depending on the needs of the plant.