Difference Between Aerobic And Anaerobic Respiration (With Table)

Both Aerobic and Anaerobic respiration involves breaking down glucose to release energy for utilization with/without the presence of oxygen. These both are part of cellular respiration. The end products involve energy release and carbon dioxide, water, acids, ATP, and alcohols also formulate depending on the nature of respiration.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Respiration

The main difference between the two is that aerobic respiration is a fully oxidized process, whereas anaerobic respiration is not. One more significant difference that persists between these two is the end product formation and exchange of gases in both. In the case of aerobic respiration exchange of gases takes place and carbon dioxide, water, along energy are formed but in the case of anaerobic respiration, there is no exchange of gases, alcohol, acid, carbon dioxide, and water along with energy are formed.

Aerobic respiration undergoes complete oxidation. The process involves breaking down glucose in energy for utilization and carbon dioxide and water as end products. Mammals and every higher organism are involved in aerobic respiration. The whole procedure involves the exchange of gases and takes place in the cytoplasm and mitochondria. During this procedure, a composite of 38 ATPs is produced.

Anaerobic respiration due to the unavailability of oxygen occurs in lower plants and organisms where there isn’t sufficient oxygen but there is a need for breathing then anaerobic respiration will occur. In this case, high-energy electron accepters are neither oxygen nor pyruvate derivatives. It occurs in the cytoplasm of the cell and end products are alcohol, acids, carbon dioxide, water, along energy.

Comparison Table Between Aerobic And Anaerobic Respiration

Parameters for ComparisonAerobic RespirationAnaerobic Respiration
DefinitionThe metabolic procedure happens in
the presence of oxygen to convert
chemical energy into ATP

The process that happens in
the absence of oxygen and where
neither oxygen not pyruvate
derivatives are high electron
EquationC6H12O6 + 6O2 →  6CO2 +
6H2O + energy
C6H12O6  →  C2H5OH +C₃H₆O₃+
CO2 + energy
State of OxygenPresentAbsent/ Low
Exchange of GasesTakes PlaceNo exchange of gases
LocationThe cytoplasm of eukaryotes and
mitochondria of prokaryotes
Cytoplasm of the cell
End ProductsWater, Carbon dioxide along
with energy
Lactic Acid, Ethyl Alcohol, Carbon
dioxide, water, along with
Energy Production38 ATPS but few gets lost
during process
2 ATPs
ReactantsCarbohydrates and oxygenCarbohydrates sometimes Sulphur
and nitrogen
OxidationComplete oxidationIncomplete oxidation
Nature of the reactionLongShort
ExamplesHigher organisms like
plants and animals
Primitive prokaryotes and
in muscle cells when sudden
energy is needed

What is Aerobic Respiration?

In the oxidation, aerobic cellular respiration that takes place. It is an oxidative procedure that enables chemical energy to be turned into ATPs. There are 38 ATPs developed here, but only a few are destroyed in the process. The process involves the breakdown of glucose in the presence of oxygen and results in the formation of energy, water, and carbon dioxide. Carbohydrates and oxygen are perquisites of this procedure and help the organisms grow and repair. The chemical equation for the whole process is-

C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O + energy

Even if the myth suggests that plants only go through photosynthesis then to contradict it, plants go through both- photosynthesis and respiration.

In the case of eukaryotes, the process takes place in the cytoplasm whereas, in prokaryotes, the process takes place in the mitochondria. The process takes comparatively more time to finish and goes through the complete oxidation of glucose.

Higher organisms like plants and animals go through aerobic respiration. When we breathe in the air, the oxygen gets enter our system via the nose, and glucose is obtained from the carbohydrates of food we consume. The whole breakdown of glucose with oxygen helps in energy formation that gets circulated throughout our body with the help of blood and carbon dioxide gets released during exhalation.

What is Anaerobic Respiration?

Anaerobic respiration is a category of metabolism process that occurs when it is the unavailability of o2 or when there is none at all. It is a process that includes the breakdown of glucose either in lactic acid or in ethyl alcohol along with water, carbon dioxide, and energy as the end products. Anaerobic respiration is mostly used during fermentation that includes bacteria like in curd, wine. There is less amount of energy formed during anaerobic respiration. The two-equation for anaerobic respiration are:

C6H12O6 →  C2H5OH +CO2 + energy (Alcoholic Anaerobic)

C6H12O6→C₃H₆O₃+CO2 + energy (Acidic Anaerobic)

There are 2 ATPs produced after the whole procedure. These occur in the cytoplasm in the cells and when living organisms like humans are in dire need of energy due to heavy exercise then anaerobic respiration occurs in the muscle cells of humans. Due to this sudden energy formation in muscle cells, cramps are common.

This proves that anaerobic respiration occurs in multi-cellular organisms. You may get relief from cramps after a hot shower that will improve the blood and oxygen circulation in the body. The process for energy production is combatively shorter than others.

This type of respiration can be witnessed in yeast and bacteria. Here the reactants are carbohydrates and sometimes involve nitrogen and Sulphur. Here incomplete oxidation of carbohydrates takes place.

Main Differences Between Aerobic And Anaerobic Respiration

  1. The major difference between aerobic and anaerobic respiration is that aerobic involves oxygen, unlike anaerobic respiration.
  2. Unlike anaerobic, aerobic take longer to complete.
  3. The end products of anaerobic respiration are alcohol and acid as well whereas in aerobic respiration only energy is formed along with water and carbon dioxide.
  4. Unlike anaerobic, anaerobic involves the complete oxidation of carbohydrates.
  5. Energy production rate is higher in aerobic with 38 ATPs.
  6. Unlike anaerobic, the exchange of gases between the organism and the surrounding takes place in aerobic respiration.


ATPs are the energy currency of the cells that are the main motive behind the cellular respiration that is categorized under aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Both categories are different from each other in the case of oxygen involved, energy production, time, and end products.

Anaerobic respiration with bacteria also known as fermentation is widely adopted due to its applications. You can see lactobacillus reacting during curd formation. Both respirations are a vital part of human lives that takes place based on the nature of that organism.

Especially when multicellular organisms like humans perform strenuous activities like cycling, running, they require energy instantly that involves anaerobic respiration to take place.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0005272869901418
  2. https://sfamjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1751-7915.2010.00181.x
  3. https://febs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1432-1327.1998.2510538.x