Justus Liebig and the Plant Physiologists

Journal of the History of Biology 35 (3):421 - 441 (2002)

Abstract
In his book "Organic Chemistry in its Application to Agriculture and Chemistry." Justus Liebig attacked "the plant physiologists" for their support of the humus theory and for their general ignorance of chemistry. Two leading botanists, Matthias Schleiden and Hugo von Mohl, responded by sharply criticizing Liebig for his lack of knowledge of plants and his misrepresentation of the views of plant physiologists. The origin and character of this debate can be understood in part through the temperaments of Liebig and Schleiden, but can be viewed also as a contest for control between the well-established discipline of chemistry and a potential discipline of plant physiology that had as yet acquired no stable institutional foundations.
Keywords botany  humus theory  organic chemistry  plant nutrition  plant physiology
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DOI 10.1023/A:1021182316792
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