History of science is devoted to the history of science, medicine and technology from earliest times to the present day. Histories of science were originally written by practicing and retired scientists, starting primarily with William Whewell, as a way to communicate the virtues of science to the public.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eduard Buchner discovered the first free enzyme

The term enzyme was coined from a Greek word meaning ‘in yeast’ – it was suggested in 1876 by Wilhelm Friedrich Kuhne (1837-1900).

In 1897 the German chemist Eduard Buchner accidentally discovered that cell-free yeast extract could still convert sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide.

He made an extract of yeast cells by grinding them and filtering off the remaining cell debris. This discovery proved that whole cells were not necessarily required for fermentation and thereby inaugurated the field of enzymology.

Buchner published his findings in the paper ‘Alcoholic Fermentation without Yeats Cells.’

In 1898 he continued his study on fermentation process in Berlin, and producing 15 papers on the topic. In one paper, ‘The Zymase: Fermentation,’ he detailed his discoveries and called the catalyst in the cell extract as zymase.

This was really the beginning of the study of enzymes and the science of biochemistry - before Buchner’s discovery scientists has believed that the reactions of life could only take place within living cells.
Eduard Buchner discovered the first free enzyme


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