Different types of photosynthesis

  1. C3 and C4 photosynthesis

C3 evolved first, C4 came later. Plants that use C4 grow 50% faster.*

In photosynthesis, the enzyme rubisco is used. But rubisco can bind to oxygen instead of co2[1]* and not do photosynthesis. If the co2 concentration around rubisco is increased, more photosynthesis can be done, and it is called C4 photosynthesis[2]

If the carbon dioxide levels in a planet becomes too low, C4 photosynthesizers can survive even after all C3 photosynthesizers go extinct*

C4 is advantageous to C3 if the temperature is high, or nutrients[3] are low*

  1. Cam photosynthesis

In deserts, plants take in co2 at night and use it during the day, so they don’t lose water by keeping their stomata open.

  1. Radiosynthesis

Melanin absorbs ultraviolet light. Radiotrophic fungi uses the ultraviolet radiation in Chernobyl to create energy.

It is quite interesting that we humans can use the ultraviolet light coming from the sun at least for some processes[4] while still being mobile, but plants use the low energy wavelengths and have to hibernate.

  1. Anaerobic photosynthesis

This is the type of photosynthesis which doesn’t generate oxygen. Instead it generates sulfur*

Maybe in Thrive, there can be two different types of life bearing planets. One where there is an oxygen atmosphere and plants use chloroplasts, in the other, there is a sulfur atmosphere and phototrophic sulfur bacteria roam around. Great oxidation and great sulfuration events can change the type of planet.

There are other posts that talks about anaerobic photosynthesis

but it wasn’t thought of as a sufficient energy source

But I think the players should be able to try to create a large species in a planet without an atmosphere full of oxygen, or even something like

I think the possibilities of life as we don’t know it is something that makes Thrive way more interesting.

  1. Acetate photosynthesis

The first stage of acetate photosynthesis has 80%* efficiency (there would still be some energy lost when turning the acetate into glucose). For comparison, solar panels convert 13 to 47%* of the solar energy to electricity and the photosynthetic efficiency of plants on Earth is between 0.1 and 5.4%*

But it hasn’t evolved yet (acetate fermentation is used by some microbes in Earth’s crust*). It requires the metal cadmium.

  1. especially if the temperature is high ↩︎

  2. there are also chemical differences ↩︎

  3. water, co2, nitrogen ↩︎

  4. vitamin d production ↩︎


this seems like it should be in game at least through a protein editor

If this system was mandatory to interact with, it would complicate the game a lot. We need to balance the amount of slight tinkering the player has to do with all of the other features in the game.

the protein editor should be like the limb/organ editor you can use it and it allows a much wider range of organelles but there are premade ones too

This has also come up before, but I’ll ask the rhetorical question again, what’s the point of making a super complex system and then doing more work on top of that to automate the complex system for players who want to skip it?


i know it is a rhetorical question but the point is allowing players who want to make custom proteins to make custom proteins for literally any purpose you could imagine. (ex: better photosynthesis molecules, custom enzymes, polynucleate neuron organelles, carbon nanotube synthesis organelles, protein shields(polymer shields made of amino acids) for organelles that require no interference from anything, experimentation, making viral envelopes to reproduce with by putting your genetic information in them and leaving them to infect cells bigger than you and drastically increase your numbers, ect.) and making the game much more interesting for people who like adding complexity to things

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With things like a protein editor, it would probably be better for them to be implemented in a DLC or a mod (if at all) so the game can actually be completed within our lifetimes.

with the rate that medicine is advancing the heat death of the universe will be within our lifetimes also the game will never be “completed” as it is open source
also it could just not be a priority and eventually someone will work on it

First of all, even if we manage to stop biological aging within our lifetime, there are still SO many things that will eventually kill us, and life cannot exist when the heat death of the universe starts.
Secondly, the game will be finished eventually. Games can be finished and still get updates.
Third, someone will work on it if someone wants to work on it, and if the other devs are fine with it being added. If the devs don’t like the idea, it probably won’t get added. If you seriously want this feature then you can make a mod that adds it.


life can exist within the heat death of the universe if you turn energy into mass by putting energy into gluons until they split and hit photons into each other to make a negative charge and a positive charge

Okay, you are just making stuff up at this point. If it is possible to create usable energy then the heat death isn’t happening. Gluons cannot split, if you put energy into a gluon it just makes another gluon with that energy.

If there is a map like this * it could be like
evolve cam photosynthesis => you can now expand to deserts

the heat death can be prevented by storing energy and making matter from energy released by decaying matter and black holes and shooting it into gluons until the gluons have enough energy to create 2 new quarks and split the gluon in half
also at the rate humanity is advancing we will be able to prevent the heat death of the universe no matter what

No, you cannot stop the heat death of the universe like that in any way. What you’re describing just speeds up entropy. Unless we figure out a way to circumvent (maybe by taking energy from other universes if that is possible) the second law of thermodynamics, and nothing like the Big Rip or the Big Crunch happens, then the heat death is inevitable.

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if the big rip happens then time travel is possible as they both violate the known laws of physics in the same way and what i meant is we collect all the energy we come across and don’t let any out and use some to make more matter to circumvent proton decay and violate the laws of thermodynamics in a physically possible manner by completely stopping heat transfer between layers of the ship if i am not explaining it well enough for it to make sense then @ someone like twilightwings21

The Big Rip does not violate the laws of physics, and what you’re describing does.
It is impossible to stop energy from leaking somehow, and you are greatly understating how much energy it takes to create matter. All that you’re proposing is an overcomplicated battery. And again, if usable energy exists, then heat death is not happening.
Read the Wikipedia article if you want to learn what it actually is.

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@TwilightWings21 can you explain what you think i mean by the comments i wrote here

Uhhhh sure no prob

Let’s see…

From what I understand, you are advocating for a more complex protein system at some point in the future, regardless of when that will be. Such a system would allow you to design custom proteins to perform whatever tasks you wanted.

Then the talk dives into development time, and then a lengthy conversation about gluons and the heat death of the universe. Sadly I cannot sum this up or explain it better due to the fact I don’t even k la what the heat death of the universe is, much less a gluon or ‘the big rip’.

Here’s my own two cents on the first half of this conversation, before it went off topic;

Your idea for a protein editor would be really cool, willow. However, it would be so extraordinarily complex it would take ages of work for a feature only dedicated players might use, so definitely shouldn’t be a major development goal.

However, you discussed a developer at some time in the future working on this if they so chose, which is of course perfectly viable. However, even then, how would such a system be created where someone could make anything they want? How would that even be coded? There are billions of possibilities that could be made, and unlike custom organs which always will effectively do the same thing (ex. A digestive system will always digest, regardless of how it does it) there is no such guarantee of similarity when a player builds custom proteins.

TLDR; do I think your idea is cool? Absolutely. Would it be several crap tons of work for something that might not even work? Yes to that as well.


i forgot to mention that it would also have a function that allows you to type what you want the protein to do and it makes it for you for if you don’t know haw to fold a string of amino acids to perform a task
gluons are the thing that allow subatomic particles with mass to exist as they hold quarks together
the heat death is explained here Heat death of the universe - Wikipedia. the big rip is an ending where the universe has so little density that nothing can hit another thing as space expands orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light

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Or it can be the other way round and it is unnecessary to show to the player.
Plants wouldn’t be able do cam photosynthesis in tidally locked planets, making deserts more barren.

It turns out elemental sulfur is a solid*. Sulfate is also solid*.

Anoxygenic photosynthesis: Hydrogen sulfide(H2S)=>Sulfur(S)
Sulfur oxidation*: Sulfur(S)=>Sulfate(SO4)
Sulfate reduction*: Sulfate(SO4)=>Hydrogen sulfide(H2S)

comparing sulfur and oxygen

During anoxygenic photosynthesis, carbondioxide(CO2) is turned into glucose(CH2O)[1], with the hydrogen coming from sulfide(H2S).

Hydrogen sulfide is a gas. A hydrogen sulfide atmosphere would be like a CO2 atmosphere. It probably can’t exist in high quantities like 10% of atmosphere, plants would lower it to a few 100 ppm’s and store it either as sulfur(S) or sulfate(SO4), they need it to break down glucose[2]. The next step, sulfur oxidation already requires oxygen. Oxygen can be created from water(H2O), but plants already use water in aerobic photosynthesis, making sulfur unnecessary.

In short, this was a bad idea, sulfur can’t replace oxygen. Well maybe it can, but it can’t happen with the processes observed in Earth. Sulfur is right below oxygen in the periodic table, and it makes similar compounds as oxygen. It sometimes replaces oxygen, but temporarily. Oxygen is 23,6 times more common in the universe*, making H2S oceans instead of H2O unlikely. Oxygen also has higher electronegativity, giving more energy in reactions. So even if a sulfur and oxygen system coexisted, the cells that use oxygen would multiply faster and sulfur using cells would either go extict or start using a sulfur/oxygen hybrid system like we have. And large animals can’t exist in sulfur/oxygen system, the sulfur(112°) or sulfate (884°) they are suppose to breathe are solid up to very high temperatures, while the hydrogen sulfide(-85°) which is supposed to form the oceans boils way below those temperatures[3].

Sulfur atmosphere instead of oxygen atmosphere doesn’t make sense. But anaerobic photosynthesis does happen in nature. There are chemosynthesising proteins in Thrive, and hydrogen sulfide as a compound. Chemosynthesis generates elemental sulfur just like anaerobic respiration*.

Okay appearently we don’t have sulfur oxidators and sulfate reducers in Thrive. Sulfur(S) is released to the enviroment without anyone making energy from it.

18H2S + 6CO2 + 3O2 => C6H12O6 + 12 H2O + 18 S
But the wikipedia page also says that the energy is generated by the oxidation of hydrogen sulfide(H2S)*. But when it is oxidised, the result is sulfate(SO4) not sulfur(S). If chemosynthesis is oxidation, why does a process not creating SO4 has the page name “Hydrogen sulfide chemosynthesis”.

Why is there glucose generated? Is there already oxygen?

Hydrogen sulfide doesn’t carry the energy to make glucose. Where is the energy coming from? Heat gradients? Is this thermosynthesis? Lets look at gibbs free energy equation.

18H2S + 6CO2 + 3O2 => C6H12O6 + 12 H2O + 18 S

  • H2S: (18 mol) x (-20,6 kJ/mol) = (-370,8 kJ)
  • CO2: (6 mol) x (-393,5 kJ/mol) = (-2361 kJ)
  • O2: (3 mol) x (0 kJ/mol) = (0 kJ)

Σ{H(Reagent)}= (-2731,8 kJ)

  • C6H12O6: (1 mol) x (-1273,3kJ/mol) = (-1273,3kJ)
  • H2O: (12 mol) x (−286 kJ/mol) = (-3432 kJ)
  • S: (18 mol) x (1,85 kJ/mol) = (33,3 kJ)

Σ{H(Product)}= (-4672 kJ)

ΔH= (-1940200 J)

  • H2S: (18 mol) x (206 J/mol K) = (3708 J/K)
  • CO2: (6 mol) x (213.8 J/mol K) = (1282,8 J/K)
  • O2: (3 mol) x (205 J/mol K) = (615 J/K)

Σ{S(Reagent)}=(5605,8 J/K)

  • C6H12O6: (1 mol) x (209 J/mol K) = (209 J/K)
  • H2O: (12 mol) x (70 J/mol K) = (840 J/K)
  • S: (18 mol) x (32,1 J/mol K) = (577,8 J/K)

Σ{S(Product)}=(1626,8 J/K)

ΔS= (-3979 J/K)
The temperature around hydrothermal vents could be as low as 4°(the temperature at the bottom of the ocean) and as high as 400°C*
ΔG for 277K is (-838017 J) and ΔG for 1073K is (2329267 J)

Hydrogen sulfide could make energy in low teperatures.

If hydrogen sulfide couldn’t make energy, I would have wrote something like this

Why do we collect hydrogen sulfide clouds to make glucose? The cell could turn the resultant sulfur into sulfate and then back into hydrogen sulfide while creating energy. If there are three reactions turning three compounds into each other, not all three could be exergonic. While plants also get new CO2 from the atmosphere, they store the carbon(glucose), not toss it away. The chemosynthesisers in Thrive get rid of sulfur for no reason. If they have oxygen to burn glucose, they should be able to burn sulfur. Do the cells go back and forth between aerobic and hydrogen sulfide enviroments, and they can carry glucose but not sulfur? But they can do aerobic respiration at the same time. The issue seems to be a lack of sulfurase*.

But, as a quora post points out*, there is still oxidation in

18H2S + 6CO2 + 3O2 => C6H12O6 + 12 H2O + 18 S

The hydrogen in H2S is being oxidised, not the sulfur. While the sulfur can also be oxidised, these reactions take place in low oxygen environments.

Anaerobic photosynthesis exists in nature, so why not add it to Thrive. They can exist especially before the great oxygenation

which reduced hydrogen sulfide on the surface of the oceans, anaerobic photosynthesis use hydrogen sulfide.

After the great oxygenation, they keep existing in lakes that don’t have their water mix and an anaerobic enviroment persists.*

They can be more common in tidally locked planets.

Water is most dense at 4 degrees

In summers, all the water a lake can get above 4 degrees. The hotter water is above, and the colder, denser water is above. When the winter comes, the surface cools down first, and gets to 4 degrees.

thermocline: where the water changes temperature

The water in the lake mixes. In the winter, all the water in a lake can get below 4 degrees. The colder water (maybe even ice) is on the surface, and the hotter, denser water is below. When the summer comes, the surface heats up first, and gets to 4 degrees. It becomes denser than the bottom, and the water in the lake mixes again.

Tidally locked planets receive constant sunlight. They don’t have a gyroscopic effect making them maintain their axis of rotation, causing a different hemisphere(north/south) get more sunlight as the planet moves around the sun 180 degrees[4]. The only change in sunlight would be due to liberation.

Without major temperature fluctuations over the year, their lakes may not mix, and may form a constant thermocline(meromictic like) with the lower layer (hypolimnion) being anaerobic and illuminated. Those layers would have anaerobic photosynthesisers.

The largest meromictic basin on Earth is the black sea, whose water is anaerobic 50 meters below the surface, a depth that is within the photic/epipelagic zone.

Or due to the constant sunlight, all the lakes and seas may be at the same temperature, from the surface to the bottom. The water may perfectly mix (polymictic), having no anoxic layer, I don’t know.

  1. this is a weird way to write glucose ↩︎

  2. or if they are using the glucose as a building material(wood) and don’t plan to burn it, they can leave hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere. but then the animals wouldn’t be able to get sulfur from the plants to digest the glucose, or would they use oxygen for that? ↩︎

  3. celsius, 1 atm ↩︎

  4. description of seasons on earth ↩︎