Current ideas maintain that the first step in the chemical path of photosynthesis is a carboxylation process. At present we do not know for certain whether this carboxylation uses free CO2, HCO 3 ions or both. It is, however, necessary to distinguish decisively between the carbon source used during this carboxylation process and the carbon source assimilated from outside by the cell. They do not necessarily have to be identical. Although, e.g., in terrestrial plants, free CO2 exclusively is assimilated, the carboxylation does possibly use HCO 3 ions. The presence of carbonic anhydrase in the cells makes such an arrangement possible.


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  • E. Steemann Nielsen

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