Life Processes Notes – Class 10 Science


Life Processes


Various functions carried out by living beings; which are necessary to maintain and continue life are called life process. Following are the life processes in living beings:

  • Nutrition
  • Respiration
  • Transportation of substances
  • Excretion
  • Movement
  • Reproduction



The process by which an organism takes food and utilizes it is called nutrition.

Need of nutrition: Organisms need energy to perform various activities. The energy is supplied by the nutrients. Organisms need various raw materials for growth and repair. These raw materials are provided by nutrients.

Nutrients: Materials which provide nutrition to organisms are called nutrients. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the main nutrients and are called macronutrients. Minerals and vitamins are required in small amounts and hence are called micronutrients.

Types of Nutrition:

  1. Autotrophic Nutrition:The mode of nutrition in which an organism prepares its own food is called autotrophic nutrition. Green plants and blue-green algae follow the autotrophic mode of nutrition.
  2. Heterotrophic Nutrition:The mode of nutrition in which an organism takes food from another organism is called heterotrophic nutrition. Organisms; other than green plants and blue-green algae follow heterotrophic mode of nutrition. Heterotrophic nutrition can be further divided into two types, viz. saprophytic nutrition and holozoic nutrition.

a. Saprophytic Nutrition: In saprophytic nutrition; the organism secretes the digestive juices on the food. The food is digested while it is still to be ingested. The digested food is then ingested by the organism. All the decomposers follow saprophytic nutrition. Some insects; like houseflies; also follow this mode of nutrition.

b. Holozoic Nutrition: In holozoic nutrition; the digestion happens inside the body of the organism, i.e. after the food is ingested. Most of the animals follow this mode of nutrition.



Plant Nutrition

Green plants prepare their own food. They make food in the presence of sunlight. Sunlight provides energy. carbon dioxide and water are the raw materials. Chloroplast is the site where food is made.

Photosynthesis: The process by which green plants prepare food is called photosynthesis. During this process; the solar energy is converted into chemical energy and carbohydrates are formed. Green leaves are the main sites of photosynthesis. The green portion of the plant contains a pigment chloroplast; which contains chlorophyll. The whole process of photosynthesis can be shown by following equation:

6CO2 + 6H2O C6H12O6 + 6O2

Steps of Photosynthesis:

  • Sunlight activates chlorophyll; which leads to splitting of water molecule.
  • The hydrogen; released by splitting of water molecule is utilized for reduction of carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates.
  • Oxygen is the byproduct of photosynthesis.
  • Carbohydrate is subsequently converted into starch and is stored in leaves and other storage parts.
  • The splitting of water molecules is part of the light reaction.
  • Other steps are part of the dark reaction during photosynthesis.

How do raw materials for photosynthesis become available to the plant?

  • Water comes from soil; through the xylem tissue in roots and stems.
  • Carbon dioxide comes in the leaves through stomata.

Significance of Photosynthesis:

  • Photosynthesis is the main way through which the solar energy is made available for different living beings.
  • Green plants are the main producers of food in the ecosystem. All other organisms directly or indirectly depend on green plants for food.
  • The process of photosynthesis also helps in maintaining the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air.



Animal Nutrition

Heterotrophic Nutrition: When an organism takes food from another organism, it is called heterotrophic nutrition. Different heterotrophic organisms follow different methods to take and utilize food. Based on this, heterotrophic nutrition can be divided into two types:

  1. Saprophytic Nutrition:In saprophytic nutrition, the digestion of food takes place before ingestion of food. This type of nutrition is usually seen in fungi and some other microorganisms. The organism secretes digestive enzymes on the food and then ingests the simple substances. Saprophytes feed on dead materials and thus help in decomposition dead remains of plants and animals.
  2. Holozoic Nutrition:In holozoic nutrition, the digestion of food follows after the ingestion of food. Thus, digestion takes place inside the body of the organism. Holozoic nutrition happens in five steps, viz. ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation and egestion.

Steps of Holozoic Nutrition

  1. Ingestion: The process of taking in the food is called ingestion.
  2. Digestion: The process of breaking complex food substances into simple molecules is called digestion. Simple molecules; thus obtained; can be absorbed by the body.
  3. Absorption: The process of absorption of digested food is called absorption.
  4. Assimilation: The process of utilization of digested food; for energy and for growth and repair is called assimilation.
  5. Egestion: The process of removing undigested food from the body is called egestion.


Nutrition in Amoeba:

Fig: Nutrition in Amoeba

Amoeba is a unicellular animal which follows holozoic mode of nutrition. The cell membrane of amoeba keeps on protruding into pseudopodia. Amoeba surrounds a food particle with pseudopodia and makes a food vacuole. The food vacuole contains the food particle and water. Digestive enzymes are secreted in the food vacuole and digestion takes place. After that, digested food is absorbed from the food vacuole. Finally, the food vacuole moves near the cell membrane and undigested food is expelled out.

Nutrition in Humans

Human beings are complex animals; which have a complex digestive system. The human digestive system is composed of an alimentary canal and some accessory glands. The alimentary canal is divided into several parts, viz. oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus. Salivary gland, liver and pancreas are the accessory glands which lie outside the alimentary canal.

Structure of the Human Digestive System:

Mouth or Buccal Cavity: The mouth has teeth and tongue. Salivary glands are also present in the mouth. The tongue has gustatory receptors which perceive the sense of taste. Tongue helps in turning over the food, so that saliva can be properly mixed in it.

Teeth help in breaking down the food into smaller particles so that swallowing of food becomes easier. There are four types of teeth in human beings. The incisor teeth are used for cutting the food. The canine teeth are used for tearing the food and for cracking hard substances. The premolars are used for coarse grinding of food. The molars are used for fine grinding of food.

Salivary glands secrete saliva. Saliva makes the food slippery which makes it easy to swallow the food. Saliva also contains the enzyme salivary amylase or ptyalin. Salivary amylase digests starch and converts it into sucrose.

Fig: Human Digestive System

Stomach:  Stomach is a bag-like organ. Highly muscular walls of the stomach help in churning the food. The walls of stomach secrete hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid kills the germs which may be present in food. Moreover, it makes the medium inside stomach as acidic. The acidic medium is necessary for gastric enzymes to work. The enzyme pepsin; secreted in stomach; does partial digestion of protein. The mucus; secreted by the walls of the stomach saves the inner lining of stomach from getting damaged from hydrochloric acid.

Small Intestine: It is a highly coiled tube-like structure. The small intestine is longer than the large intestine but its lumen is smaller than that of the large intestine. The small intestine is divided into three parts, viz. duodenum, jejunum and ileum.

Liver: Liver is the largest organ in the human body. Liver manufactures bile; which gets stored in gall bladder. From the gall bladder, bile is released as and when required.

Pancreas: Pancreas is situated below the stomach. It secretes pancreatic juice which contains many digestive enzymes.

Bile and pancreatic juice go to the duodenum through a hepato-pancreatic duct. Bile breaks down fat into smaller particles. This process is called emulsification of fat. After that, the enzyme lipase digests fat into fatty acids and glycerol. Trypsin and chymotrypsin are enzymes which digest protein into amino acids. Complex carbohydrates are digested into glucose. The major part of digestion takes place in the duodenum.

No digestion takes place in jejunum. The inner wall in the ileum is projected into numerous finger-like structures; called villi. Villi increase the surface area inside the ileum so that optimum absorption can take place. Moreover, villi also reduce the lumen of the ileum so that food can stay for longer duration in it; for optimum absorption. Digested food is absorbed by villi.

Large Intestine: Large intestine is smaller than small intestine. Undigested food goes into the large intestine. Some water and salt are absorbed by the walls of the large intestine. After that, the undigested food goes to the rectum; from where it is expelled out through the anus.


The process by which a living being utilizes the food to get energy is called respiration. Respiration is an oxidation reaction in which carbohydrate is oxidized to produce energy. Mitochondrion is the site of respiration and the energy released is stored in the form of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). ATP is stored in mitochondria and is released as per need.

Steps of Respiration:

  1. Breaking down glucose into pyruvate: This step happens in the cytoplasm. Glucose molecule is broken down into pyruvic acid. Glucose molecule is composed of 6 carbon atoms, while pyruvic acid is composed of 3 carbon atoms.
  2. Fate of Pyruvic Acid: Further breaking down of pyruvic acid takes place in mitochondria and the molecules formed depend on the type of respiration in a particular organism. Respiration is of two types, viz. aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration.

Types of Respiration:

  1. Aerobic Respiration: This type of respiration happens in the presence of oxygen. Pyruvic acid is converted into carbon dioxide. Energy is released and water molecule is also formed at the end of this process.
  2. Anaerobic Respiration: This type of respiration happens in the absence of oxygen. Pyruvic acid is either converted into ethyl alcohol or lactic acid. Ethyl alcohol is usually formed in case of anaerobic respiration in microbes; like yeast or bacteria. Lactic acid is formed in some microbes as well as in the muscle cells.

Glucose (6 carbon molecule) Pyruvate (3 carbon molecule) + Energy

Pyruvate (In yeast; lack of O2 ) Ethyl alcohol + Carbon dioxide + Energy

Pyruvate (In muscles; lack of O2 ) Lactic Acid + Energy

Pyruvate (In mitochondria; presence of O2 ) Carbon dioxide + Water + Energy

The equations for above reactions can be written as follows:

C6H12O6  6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy

C6H12O6  C2H5OH + CO2


Pain in Leg Muscles on Running: When someone runs too fast, he may experience a throbbing pain the leg muscles. This happens because of anaerobic respiration taking place in the muscles. During running, the energy demand from the muscle cells increases. This is compensated by anaerobic respiration and lactic acid is formed in the process. The deposition of lactic acid causes the pain the leg muscles. The pain subsides after taking rest for some time.

Exchange of Gases: For aerobic respiration; organisms need a continuous supply of oxygen, and carbon dioxide produced during the process needs to be removed from the body. Different organisms use different methods for intake of oxygen and expulsion of carbon dioxide. Diffusion is the method which is utilized by unicellular and some simple organisms for this purpose. In plants also, diffusion is utilized for exchange of gases. In complex animals, respiratory system does the job of exchange of gases. Gills are the respiratory organs for fishes. Fishes take in oxygen; which is dissolved in water; through gills. Since availability of oxygen is less in the aquatic environment so the breathing rate of aquatic organisms is faster. Insects have a system of spiracles and tracheae which is used for taking in oxygen.

Terrestrial organisms have developed lungs for exchange of gases. Availability of oxygen is not a problem in the terrestrial environment so breathing rate is slower compared to what it is in fishes.


Human Respiratory System:

The human respiratory system is composed of a pair of lungs. These are attached to a system of tubes which open on the outside through the nostrils. Following are the main structures in the human respiratory system:

Nostrils: There two nostrils which converge to form a nasal passage. The inner lining of the nostrils is lined by hairs and remains wet due to mucus secretion. The mucus and the hairs help in filtering the dust particles out from inhaled air. Further, air is warmed up when it enters the nasal passage.

Pharynx: It is a tube like structure which continues after the nasal passage.

Larynx: This part comes after the pharynx. This is also called the voice box.

Trachea: This is composed of rings of cartilage. Cartilaginous rings prevent the collapse of trachea in the absence of air.

Bronchi: A pair of bronchi comes out from the trachea; with one bronchus going to each lung.

Bronchioles: A bronchus divides into branches and sub-branches; inside the lung.

Alveoli: These are air-sacs at the end of bronchioles. Alveolus is composed of a very thin membrane and is the place where blood capillaries open. This is alveolus; where oxygen mixes with the blood and carbon dioxide exits from the blood. The exchange of gases; in alveoli; takes place due to pressure differential.

Breathing Mechanism: The breathing mechanism of lungs is controlled by the diaphragm and the intercostalis muscles. Diaphragm is a membrane which separates the thoracic chamber from the abdominal cavity. When diaphragm moves down, the lungs expand and air is inhaled. When diaphragm moves up, the lungs contract and air is exhaled.


Transportation in Animals

Circulatory System: The circulatory system is responsible for transport of various substances in human beings. It is composed of the heart, arteries, veins and blood capillaries. Blood plays the role of the carrier of substances.

Heart: Heart is a muscular organ; which is composed of cardiac muscles. It is so small that it can fit inside and adult’s fist. The heart is a pumping organ which pumps the blood. The human heart is composed of four chambers, viz. right auricle, right ventricle, left auricle and left ventricle.

Systole: Contraction of cardiac muscles is called systole.

Diastole: Relaxation of cardiac muscles is called diastole.

Arteries: These are thick-walled blood vessels which carry oxygenated blood from the heart to different organs. Pulmonary arteries are exceptions because they carry deoxygenated blood from the heart to lungs; where oxygenation of blood takes place.

Veins: These are thin-walled blood vessels which carry deoxygenated blood from different organs to the heart. Pulmonary veins are exceptions because they carry oxygenated blood from lungs to the heart. Valves are present in veins to prevent backflow of blood.

Capillaries: These are the blood vessels which have single-celled walls.

Blood: Blood is a connective tissue which plays the role of the carrier for various substances in the body. Blood is composed of plasma, blood cells and platelets.

Blood Plasma: Blood Plasma is a pale colored liquid which is mostly composed of water. Blood plasma forms the matrix of blood.

Blood Cells: There are two types of blood cells, viz. Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and White Blood Cells (WBCs).

Red Blood Corpuscles (RBCs): These are of red color because of the presence of hemoglobin which is a pigment. Hemoglobin readily combines with oxygen and carbon dioxide. The transport of oxygen happens through hemoglobin. Some part of carbon dioxide is also transported through hemoglobin.

White Blood Corpuscles (WBCs): These are of pale white colour. They play important role in the immunity.

Platelets: Platelets are responsible for blood coagulation. Blood coagulation is a defense mechanism which prevents excess loss of blood; in case of an injury.

Lymph: Lymph is similar to blood but RBCs are absent in lymph. Lymph is formed from the fluid which leaks from blood capillaries and goes to the intercellular spaces in the tissues. This fluid is collected through lymph vessels and finally returns to the blood capillaries. Lymph also plays an important role in the immune system.

Double Circulation: In the human heart, blood passes through the heart twice in one cardiac cycle. This type of circulation is called double circulation. One complete heartbeat in which all the chambers of the heart contract and relax once is called cardiac cycle. The heart beats about 72 times per minute in a normal adult. In one cardiac cycle, the heart pumps out 70 mL blood and thus about 4900 mL blood in a minute. Double circulation ensures complete segregation of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood which is necessary for optimum energy production in warm-blooded animals.

Circulation of Blood through the heart:

Systemic Vein ⇨ Sinus Venosus ⇨ Right Auricle ⇨ Right Ventricle ⇨ Pulmonary Artery ⇨ Lungs ⇨ Pulmonary Vein ⇨ Left Auricle ⇨ Left Ventricle ⇨ Trunchus Arteriosus ⇨ Systemic Circulation



Removal of harmful waste from the body is called excretion. Many wastes are produced during various metabolic activities. These need to be removed in time because their accumulation in the body can be harmful and even lethal for an organism.


Human Excretory System

The human excretory system is composed of a pair of kidneys. A tube; called ureter; comes out of each kidney and goes to the urinary bladder. Urine is collected in the urinary bladder, from where it is expelled out through urethra as and when required.

Fig: Human Excretory System Kidney: Kidney is a bean-shaped organ which lies near the vertebral column in the abdominal cavity. The kidney is composed of many filtering units; called nephrons. Nephron is called the functional unit of kidney.

Nephron: It is composed of a tangled mess of tubes and a filtering part; called glomerulus. Glomerulus is a network of blood capillaries to which renal artery is attached. The artery which takes blood to the glomerulus is called afferent arteriole and the one receiving blood from the glomerulus is called efferent arteriole. Glomerulus is enclosed in a capsule like portion; called Bowman’s capsule. The Bowman’s capsule extends into a fine tube which is highly coiled. Tubes from various nephrons converge into collecting duct; which finally goes to the ureter.

Filtration in Glomerulus: Filtration happens because of very high pressure inside the glomerulus. The lumen of efferent arteriole is smaller than that of afferent arteriole. Due to this, the blood entering the glomerulus experiences very high pressure and due to this, the waste products are filtered out through the thin membrane of capillaries in the glomerulus. The filtered blood is sent to the systemic circulation through efferent arteriole and the filtrate goes to the Bowman’s capsule. That is how urine is formed inside the kidneys. Reabsorption of water and some other filtrates takes place in the tubular part of the nephron. This increases the concentration of urine. The human urine is mainly composed of water and urea.


Transportation in Plants

Plants have specialized vascular tissues for transportation of substances. There are two types of vascular tissues in plants, viz. xylem and phloem.

Xylem: Xylem is responsible for transportation of water and minerals. It is composed of trachieds, xylem vessels, xylem parenchyma and xylem fibre. Trachieds and xylem vessels are the conducting elements. The xylem makes a continuous tube in plants which runs from roots to stem and right up to the veins of leaves.

Phloem: Phloem is responsible for transportation of food. Phloem is composed of sieve tubes, companion cells, phloem parenchyma and bast fibres. Sieve tubes are the conducting elements in phloem.


Ascent of Sap
The upward movement of water and minerals from roots to different plant parts is called ascent of sap. Many factors are at play in ascent of sap and it takes place in many steps. They are explained as follows:

Fig: Ascent of Sap

Root Pressure: The walls of cells of root hairs are very thin. Water; from soil; enters the root hairs because of osmosis. Root pressure is responsible for movement of water up to the base of the stem.

Capillary Action: A very fine tube is called capillary. Water; or any liquid; rises in the capillary because of physical forces and this phenomenon is called capillary action. Water; in stem; rises up to some height because of capillary action.

Adhesion-cohesion of Water Molecules: Water molecules make a continuous column in the xylem because of forces of adhesion and cohesion among the molecules. Transpiration Pull: Loss of water vapour through stomata and lenticels; in plants; is called transpiration. Transpiration through stomata creates vacuum which creates a suction; called transpiration pull. The transpiration pull sucks the water column from the xylem tubes and thus water is able to rise to great heights in even the tallest plants.

Transport of Food: Transport of food in plants happens because of utilization of energy. Thus, unlike the transport through xylem; it is a form of active transport. Moreover, the flow of substances through phloem takes place in both directions, i.e. it is a two-way traffic in phloem.

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