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The first process in cell respiration (both aerobic and anaerobic respiration) is glycolysis. Glycolysis involves a series of reactions that ultimately breakdown glucose into pyruvate molecules, ATP molecules, NADH molecules, water molecules and hydrogen ions. This process involves three main stages. Stage 1 involves a series of three reactions that ultimately phosphorylate the glucose and transform it into a five-membered fructose. This stage not only traps the glucose inside the cell, it also transforms it into a high-energy form. Stage 2 involves the breakdown of glucose into two PGAL molecules. In stage 3, we harvest the energy stored within PGAL molecules and transfer it into ATP and NADH molecules. The net result of the breakdown of a single glucose molecule is 2 pyruvate molecules, 2 ATP molecules, 2 NADH molecules, 2 water molecules and 2 hydrogen ions. Note that glycolysis takes place in the cytosol of the cell and occurs regardless of whether or not there is oxygen present. Therefore glycolysis is an anaerobic process.
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