Jean Senebier, Swiss botanist

Jean Senebier, Swiss botanist

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Caption: Jean Senebier (1742-1809), Swiss botanist, at his desk. Senebier was a pastor (leader of a religious congregation). He was born and died in Geneva, Switzerland. He wrote extensively on plant physiology, especially on the influence of light. He built on the work of Malpighi, Hales, Bonnet, Priestley, and Ingenhousz. It was Senebier who discovered the key role of carbon dioxide, and was the first to clearly show that the chemical and physiological activity discovered by others was confined to the green parts of the plant and took place in sunlight. This was the first connected view of plant growth in chemical terms, and was a key advance in understanding photosynthesis.

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