August 8, 2021

History and discovery of glucose

A sugar industry existed around the shores of the Mediterranean between A.D. 700-1600. It was founded as part of the Arab agricultural revolution. The first reference of glucose was “grape sugar” in Moorish writing 1100 AD. The Moors introduced sugar to Europe for the first time by bringing sugarcane from the Nile valley. It grew particularly well along the Mediterranean coast and especially in the M├ílaga area of al-Andalus.

The sweetness of sugarbeets was recorded in 1590 AD. In 1600, the French agronomist Olivier de Serres noted that ‘‘The beet on being cooked yields a syrup which is beautiful to look at on account of its vermillion color’’.

Glucose, a ubiquitous carbon source preferred by most cells, was first identified by German pharmacist, Andreas Marggraf in 1747. In that year he used alcohol to isolated sucrose from sugar beets, arguably his most influential discovery, as it has revolutionized the modern sugar industry with the process, he used to extract such sugar. He identified the sugar beet’s dried, crystallized juice as identical with cane sugar by the use of a microscope.

In the same year, he experimented with raisins to extract glucose. Raisins are comprised of many molecules, including many sugars like sucrose, fructose, and glucose.

The name glucose was coined in 1838 by French chemist Jean Dumas, from the Greek word gleucos, which means ‘sweet’ or ‘sugar,’ and the structure was discovered by Emil Fischer around the turn of the century.

In 1884, Emil Fischer synthesized some of the known sugars such as fructose and glucose, and he identified 16 stereoisomeric forms of glucose.
History and discovery of glucose

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