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Chapter 9 : Biochemistry and Life

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Biochemistry and Life, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

The first task Louis Pasteur assumed after returning to the École Normale was to prove beyond doubt that yeast and the lactic-acid ferment were really living things. Even more thought-provoking was the unexpected discovery that certain types of bacteria could live without air. In reality all the aspects of Pasteur work on fermentations were continuously reacting one with the other, influencing each other, giving new significance to old observations and leading to new hypotheses. Thus did it come about that the book on beer gave him the opportunity to summarize much of the biochemical wisdom and understanding he had derived from his earlier studies on fermentation. Eventually, Pasteur summarized his understanding of these complex phenomena in a few arresting formulae, the gist of which is that “fermentation is respiration in the absence of air’’. Time and time again he restated his belief that: "Fermentation should be possible in all types of cells. Thus, it can be said that Pasteur’s work led inescapably to the doctrine of the biochemical unity of life, truly one of the most important philosophical concepts of modern science. While Pasteur’s studies of the biological significance of stereoisomerism did not throw any light on the genesis of life, they have yielded a number of facts that have had far-reaching influence on the development of biochemistry. Pasteur pondered endlessly over the mechanisms whereby each living organism transmits to its progeny its unique hereditary characteristics.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Biochemistry and Life, p 73-83. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch9

Key Concept Ranking

Lactic Acid
0.7137812
Alcoholic Fermentation
0.6840745
0.7137812
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Figures

Image of Figure 1
Figure 1

Pasteur's drawing of the kind of flask he used for studying yeast fermentations. This is a simple modification of the flask he used in his studies on spontaneous generation, but permitted periodic sampling so that the progress of the fermentation could be monitored.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Biochemistry and Life, p 73-83. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch9
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Image of Figure 2
Figure 2

Pasteur's device for studying microorganisms under the microscope in the complete absence of air. A, flask filled to the top; B, overflow into a jar of mercury, preventing the entrance of oxygen from the air; V, reservoir of excess culture medium.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Biochemistry and Life, p 73-83. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch9
Permissions and Reprints Request Permissions
Download as Powerpoint

References

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