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Sachs, Julius von

plant studied plants chloroplasts

(1832–97) German botanist: pioneer of plant physiology.

Sachs was an assistant to at Prague, and after various posts in Germany became professor at Würzburg from 1868. During nearly half a century he made massive contributions to plant physiology, which before him was largely neglected. Much apparatus and technique now familiar is due to him, and his many pupils continued to develop the subject. His early work was on stored nutrients in seeds and on the culture of plants in nutrient solutions (hydroponics). He studied the uptake of minerals by plants, and the influence of temperature on plant growth, and discovered the ‘law of cardinal points’. In 1861 he showed that photosynthesis actually occurs in chloroplasts and that the first ‘visible’ product of carbon dioxide uptake is starch, deposited in the chloroplasts. He studied etiolation and the formation of flowers and roots; and geotropism, phototropism and hydrotropism. When, after about 1880, he moved more towards theory, he was less successful; and his authority held back new views and delayed discoveries. In his last years he strongly attacked views on evolution.

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