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Aerobic vs Anaerobic Respiration

Cellular respiration is the process by which cells release energy by breaking down glucose molecules. It is broadly categorized into two types: aerobic and anaerobic.

What are Aerobic and Anaerobic Respiration

Aerobic respiration is the process through which cells break down the glucose molecule to convert its stored biochemical energy into energy-coin Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the presence of oxygen. This type of respiration is the primary energy-yielding process of all living beings, providing all the energy to maintain life.

Anaerobic respiration, the most primitive form of respiration on earth, is how cells convert the stored energy of glucose into ATP in the absence of free oxygen. It provides energy to the cells very rapidly.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Respiration

Compare and Contrast

As stated, both types of respiration aim to produce energy from glucose. However, two processes do not follow the same pathway and are not equivalently efficient. Although some cells may undergo just one type of respiration, most cells use both types, depending on an organism’s needs.

What is the Difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic Respiration

BasisAerobic RespirationAnaerobic Respiration
1. Site of Reactioni) In eukaryotes: cytoplasm and mitochondria
ii) In prokaryotes: cytoplasm
i) In eukaryotes: cytoplasm

ii) In prokaryotes: cytoplasm
2. Final electron acceptorOxygenSulfate(SO4) or nitrate ion (NO3)
3. Amount of Energy ReleasedMore (38 ATPs) Less ( 2 ATPs)
4. Nature of the ProcessSlowFast
5. Exchange of GasesOccursDoes not occur
6. StagesGlycolysis, Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle, and electron transport chain (ETC)Glycolysis, fermentation, and electron transport chain (ETC)
7. EquationC6H12O6 (Glucose) + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy (38 ATPs)C6H12O6 (Glucose)  → 2C3H6O3 (Lactic acid) + Energy (2 ATPs)
8. Presence of OxygenPresentEither low or absent
9. ReactantsGlucose and oxygenGlucose
10. End ProductsCarbon dioxide, water, and ATPEthanol and CO2 or lactate
11. Production of Ethanol or Lactic AcidNot producedProduced
12. Oxidation of CarbohydrateCompleteIncomplete
13. Occurs inMost of the higher organisms like plants and animalsMostly in primitive prokaryotes, also in the muscle cells in humans during extreme movements
14. Examplesi) Respiration in humans
ii) Respiration in plants  
i) Lactic acid production in muscles
ii) Alcohol fermentation in yeast  
15. Advantagesi) Complete breakdown of glucose
ii) Maximum yield of energy
i) Produces energy faster
ii) Allows organisms to live in places with very little or no oxygen
16. Disadvantagesi) Slow processi) Partial breakdown of glucose
ii) Very less energy is produced


  • Both oxidize similar substrate, glucose
  • Both produce ATP


Q.1. Which is required for both anaerobic respiration and aerobic respiration?

Ans. Both anaerobic and aerobic respirations require glucose.

Q.2. Is cellular respiration an aerobic or anaerobic process?

Ans. Cellular respiration comprises both aerobic and anaerobic respiration.

Q3. Compare fermentation with anaerobic and aerobic respiration.

Ans. In fermentation, an organic molecule, pyruvate, is used to regenerate NAD+ from NADH. On the other hand, in aerobic and anaerobic respiration, glucose gets broken down in the presence and absence of oxygen, respectively, yielding ATP.

Article was last reviewed on Friday, December 17, 2021

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