René Joachim Henri Dutrochet


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(1776–1847) French physiologist

Born in Néon, France, Dutrochet began medical studies while serving in the army in Paris in 1802. After graduating in 1806 he served as an army surgeon in Spain. However, through illness he resigned his post in 1809 and thereafter devoted his time to natural science.

In 1814 he published his investigations into animal development, suggesting a unity of the main features during the early stages. Later research into plant and animal physiology led to his assertion that respiration is similar in both plants and animals. In 1832, Dutrochet showed that gas exchange in plants was via minute openings (stomata) on the surface of leaves and the deep cavities with which they communicate. He further demonstrated that only cells containing chlorophyll can fix carbon and thus transform light energy into chemical energy. Dutrochet studied osmosis and suggested it may be the cause of ascent and descent of sap in plants. Although sometimes lacking in accuracy, the importance of his work lies mainly in his endeavor to demonstrate that the vital phenomena of life can be explained on the basis of physics and chemistry.

Subjects: Science and Mathematics.

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