Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Christian de Duve
Christian de Duve (born October 2, 1917) is a biochemist. de Duve was born in Thames-Ditton , Britain, as a son of Belgian emigrants. They returned to Belgium in 1920. De Duve studied at the Catholic University of Leuven, where he became professor in 1947. He specialized in subcellular biochemistry and cell biology and discovered the peroxisomes, a cell organelle.
Amongst other subjects, de Duve studied the distribution of enzymes in rat liver cells using rate-zonal centrifugation . De Duve's work on cell fractionation provided an insight into the function of cell structures.
De Duve was awarded the shared Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1974, together with Albert Claude and George E. Palade, for describing the structure and function of organelles in biological cells. His later years have been mostly devoted to origin of life studies, which he admits is still a speculative field (see thioester).
His work has contributed to the emerging consensus that the endosymbiotic theory is correct; this idea proposes that Mitochondrion, chloroplasts, and perhaps other organelles of eukaryotic cells originated as Prokaryote endosymbionts, which came to live inside eukaryotic cells.
De Duve proposes that peroxisomes may have been the first endosymbionts, which allowed cells to withstand the growing amounts of free molecular oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. Since peroxisomes have no DNA of their own, this proposal has much less evidence than the similar claims for mitochondria and chloroplasts.
- A Guided Tour of the Living Cell (1984) ISBN 0716750023
- Blueprint For a Cell: The Nature and Origin of Life (1991) ISBN 0892784105
- Vital Dust: Life As a Cosmic Imperative (1996) ISBN 0465090451
- Life Evolving: Molecules, Mind, and Meaning (2002) ISBN 0195156056
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