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In photosynthesis, oxygen comes from water: from a 1787 book for women by Monsieur De Fourcroy

  • Pierre Joliot
  • Antony Crofts
  • Lars Olof Björn
  • Christine Yerkes
  • Govindjee
Publishing year: 2016-04-14
Language: English
Pages: 105-107
Publication/Series: Photosynthesis Research
Volume: 129
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article (comment)
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

It is now well established that the source of
oxygen in photosynthesis is water. The earliest suggestion
previously known to us had come from Rene´ Bernard
Wurmser (1930). Here, we highlight an earlier report by
Monsieur De Fourcroy (1787), who had already discussed
the broad outlines of such a hypothesis in a book on
Chemistry written for women. We present here a free
translation of a passage from this book, with the original
text in French as an Appendix.


  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Botany
  • Antoine Lavoisier
  • Joseph Priestley
  • Otto Warburg
  • Richard Willstätter
  • René Wurmser


  • ISSN: 0166-8595
Lars Olof Björn
E-mail: lars_olof [dot] bjorn [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emeritus

Molecular Cell Biology

+46 46 222 72 53