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The Experiment that LED to The Discovery of Photosynthesis

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In 1648, a Dutch physician named Johann Baptista van Helmont had essentially began the discovery of photosynthesis by experimenting with potted plants. With this experiment, he had grown a willow tree for five years. After testing, the mass of the tree had increased while the soil had remained the same. It had been believed by van Helmont that the cause was from the water as well as the plant’s required nutrients.

Later, in 1772, Joseph Priestley had done another experiment between a mouse and a candle. Knowing that a burning candle will go out when placed in a sealed area, he had also tested whether or not a mouse would die if placed in the sealed area. Testing concluded that the hypothesis was in fact, true. The death of the mouse had happened because the process of combustion uses up the oxygen of which is needed by an animal for respiration. But, when the lack of oxygen can be met with an area of oxygen, the oxygen would be replenished and the mouse would be able to survive.

In an important discover, another Dutch physician had discovered another factor in photosynthesis through an experiment. Discovered by Jan Ingen-Housz in 1778, he had concluded while undergoing photosynthesis, a plant will radiate oxygen through the green leaves. However, any part of the plant that isn’t green, will consume rather than give out oxygen during photosynthesis. The parts of consumption are not limited to but include the fruit, the stem, the branch, and also the roots. This has taught an important key of photosynthesis- chlorophyll.

Another event of learning about photosynthesis was the discovery that plants have a consumption of carbon in their carbon content. The discovery was during photosynthesis, the release of oxygen depended on the intake of carbon dioxide. Naturally, the plant takes the carbon dioxide and extracts and intakes the carbon. With the oxygen being essentially useless, it is removed from the plant and given back into nature. The discovery of this information was concluded and done by Jean Senebier who had also came up with a formula:

CO + H2O -> (CH2O) + O2

The last key discovery of photosynthesis was done by a microbiologist named Van Niel, discovering that light played a key role in photosynthesis. Conducting a research experiment with purple sulfur bacteria, both the bacteria and green plants synthesized glucose from carbon dioxide. However, this statement was only true with the presence of light.

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The Experiment that Led to the Discovery of Photosynthesis. (2018, August 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from
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The Experiment that Led to the Discovery of Photosynthesis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 May 2022].
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