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Buchner, Eduard

cells fermentation yeast killed

[bukh ner] (1860–1917) German organic chemist: showed that fermentation does not require living cells.

Buchner’s elder brother Hans (see below), first interested and guided him in science, succeeding so well that Eduard studied botany under and chemistry under and became the latter’s assistant. From 1893 he was professor at Kiel and, after several moves, at Würzburg from 1911 until he was killed in action in the First World War.

Until Buchner’s work in 1897, it had been believed that fermentation required intact living yeast cells. Buchner tested this view by grinding yeast cells with sand and pressing from the mixture a cell-free extract. This extract when added to sugar solution, caused fermentation to ethanol and CO2 much as would yeast cells. The vitalist view was defeated. Buchner named the active principle ‘zymase’. We now call such biological catalysts ‘enzymes’ and recognize that they are proteins, highly specific in action and involved in nearly all biochemical changes. Buchner won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1907; he was killed serving as a major in a field hospital. His brother Hans Buchner (1850–1902) worked in bacteriology and showed that protein in blood serum was important in immunity.

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