What is the difference between photophosphorylation and oxidative phosphorylation?

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Joëlle Share
Sep 18, 2016


Photophosphorylation occurs during photosynthesis and oxidative phosphorylation during cellular respiration.


Both photophosphorylation and oxidative phosphorylation (oxphos) are processes cells use to make energy in the form of ATP.

First the similarities:

  • in both cases electrons are transferred through a series of membrane proteins
  • the electrons provide energy to pump protons (H+) to one side of the membrane
  • the protons flow back through a special enzyme (ATP-synthase) which makes ATP

Then the differences:

  • when it occurs:
    oxphos occurs during cellular respiration #harr#
    photophosphorylation occurs during photosynthesis
  • where it occurs: oxphos occurs inside mitochondria #harr# photophosphorylation occurs inside thylakoids (in chloroplasts)
  • energy source: the energy source for oxphos is glucose #harr#
    the energy source for photophosphorylation sunlight.
  • electron acceptor: in oxphos the final electron acceptor is molecular oxygen #harr#
    in photophosphorylation the final electron acceptor is NADP+

https://www.studyblue.com/notes/note/n/ch-19-the-light-reactions-of-photosynthesis/deck/10634388 (adapted)

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