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Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss photosynthesis, a chemical process which drives most life on Earth.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss photosynthesis, the process by which green plants and many other organisms use sunlight to synthesise organic molecules. Photosynthesis arose very early in evolutionary history and has been a crucial driver of life on Earth. In addition to providing most of the food consumed by organisms on the planet, it is also responsible for maintaining atmospheric oxygen levels, and is thus almost certainly the most important chemical process ever discovered.


Nick Lane
Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry at University College London

Sandra Knapp
Botanist at the Natural History Museum

John Allen
Professor of Biochemistry at Queen Mary, University of London.

Producer: Thomas Morris

Available now

47 minutes

Last on

Thu 14 May 2020 21:30


Sandra Knapp at the Natural History Museum


Nick Lane at University College London


John Allen at Queen Mary, University of London


Photosynthetic Cells


Photosynthesis - Wikipedia





David Beerling, The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth’s History (Oxford University Press, 2008)


Robert E. Blankenship, Molecular Mechanisms of Photosynthesis (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014)


Govindjee, J. T. Beatty, H. Gest, J. F. Allen (eds.), Discoveries in Photosynthesis (Springer, 2005)


Andrew H. Knoll, Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth (Princeton University Press, 2004)


Nick Lane, Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World (Oxford University Press, 2003)


Nick Lane, Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution (Profile Books, 2010)


David Lee, Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color (University of Chicago Press, 2008)


Oliver Morton, Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet (Fourth Estate, 2009)


Tim Lenton and Andrew Watson, Revolutions that Made the Planet (Oxford University Press, 2011)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Nick Lane
Interviewed Guest Sandra Knapp
Interviewed Guest John Allen
Producer Thomas Morris


  • Thu 15 May 2014 09:00
  • Thu 15 May 2014 21:30
  • Thu 14 May 2020 09:00
  • Thu 14 May 2020 21:30

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