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Photosynthesis Web Resources
Larry Orr (ASU) and Govindjee (UIUC)


The Internet and its collection of linked hypertext documents 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 happened in the next three years that yet a new version was necessary (Orr and Govindjee 2010). Audio presentations and lectures (podcasts) became 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. Now, this latest version of the review (Orr and Govindjee 2013) arises from the many changes that have occurred since 2010. Many of the older sites have vanished while new ones including online lessons and entire courses such as those presented by the Kahn Academy, TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talks (hour long lectures) and TED Ed (brief lessons for younger students) have sprung up. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) have begun to appear at many universities and allow the public to sign up and take the courses on a non-credit basis, though some are now offering tests and certificates. It is too early to tell if these are the “next big thing” or just the latest fad. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become a quick way to disseminate breaking scientific news. One caveat when looking at social media 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 may not have anything to do with the topic.

This educational review presents relevant information on photosynthesis-related information grouped into several categories: (a) group sites, (b) sites by subject, (c) individual researcher’s sites, (d) sites for educators and students, and (e) 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 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 the ongoing revisions to this Web-based version of the review.)

As in our last edition, we would like to offer a brief literary quote to set the stage:

Only when photosynthesis was invented, about two and a half billion years ago, did oxygen become part of earth’s air and, because oxygen is a dangerous, reactive chemical, this poisoning of the planet wiped out many creatures and forced others into hiding. These oxygen-haters live to this day in lake bottoms, in swamps, and deep in the soil, eking out an existence in oxygen-free environments. Other creatures adapted to the new pollutant and, using an elegant sidestepping maneuver, turned the toxic oxygen to their advantage. Thus was born respiration using oxygen, an energy-liberating biochemical trick that we have inherited. Our lives therefore depend on an ancient form of pollution.

David George Haskell, (2012) The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature. Viking, pp 26–27.


We dedicate this educational review to many “friends of photosynthesis” including Steven Brody (1927-2010, USA and Denmark), Rod Clayton (1922–2011, USA), Howard Gest (1922–2012, USA), Berger Mayne (1920-2011, USA), Mamoru Mimuro (1950-2011, Japan), Prasanna Mohanty (1934–2013, India), Gernot Renger (1938–2013, Germany), and David Walker (1928–2012, UK) for their highly significant contributions to photosynthesis research. They will be missed.


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. Photosynthesis Research 68: 1–28

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

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

Orr L and Govindjee (2013) Photosynthesis Web resources. Photosynthesis Research 115: 179–213.


Larry Orr is grateful to Gary Dirks, Director of ASU LightWorks and Tom Moore, Director of the ASU Center for Bioenergy and Photosynthesis at Tempe, for their support of this project. Govindjee thanks the offices of the Department of Plant Biology and Information Technology (Life Sciences), of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for their constant support. We thank Devan Sadowski-Sanders, a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for her help in searching for broken links in the earlier version of this paper. We also thank Alexandrina Stirbet for reading and commenting on the final version of this educational review.





Author Contact Information :

Larry Orr
ASU Center for Bioenergy & Photosynthesis
LightWorks and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Arizona State University
Box 871604
Tempe, AZ 85287-1604, USA
Phone:  1-480-965-1963  
Fax: 1-480-965-2747
Meet the author

Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Plant Biology
Departments of Biochemistry and Plant Biology and Center of Biophysics and Computational Biology
University of Illinois
265 Morrill Hall, MC-116
505 South Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801-3707, USA
Phone: 1-217-337-0627  
Fax: 1-217-244-7246 
Meet the author

This Website is based on the Educational Review: Photosynthesis Web Resources. Photosynthesis Research (2013) 115: 179–214, DOI: 10.1007/s11120-013-9840-3

Please contact the authors with any broken links, corrections or suggestions.