Authored by: Dean A. Kopsell , David E. Kopsell , Russell L. Hamlin

Handbook of Plant Nutrition

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9781439881972
eBook ISBN: 9781439881989
Adobe ISBN:


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Prior to the eighteenth century, the principal ore of molybdenum, molybdenite, was confused with graphite and lead. Back then, lead referred to any black mineral that left a mark on paper. It was not until 1778 that the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele confirmed that molybdenite was not the element lead (known commonly as galena) or graphite. Scheele identified the new element as molybdenum, named after the ore in which it was found. Peter Jacob Hjelm successfully extracted and purified molybdenum from molybdenite in 1781. The biological significance of molybdenum was established in 1930 when Bortels discovered that it was required for the assimilation of gaseous nitrogen by the free-living nitrogen-fixing bacterium Azotobacter chroococcum (Bortels, 1930; Mulder, 1948).

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