Heinrich Anton de Bary

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Heinrich Anton de Bary (January 26, 1831 – January 19, 1888) was a German surgeon, botanist, microbiologist, and mycologist (fungal systematics and physiology).

He is considered a founding father of plant pathology (phytopathology) as well as the founder of modern mycology. His extensive and careful studies of the life history of fungi and contribution to the understanding of algae and higher plants were landmarks of biology.



Born in Frankfurt, Anton de Bary was one of ten children born to physician August Theodor de Bary (1802–1873) and Emilie Meyer de Bary. His father encouraged him to join the excursions of the active group of naturalists who collected specimens in the nearby countryside. De Bary’s youthful interest in plants and in examination of fungi and algae were inspired by George Fresenius, a physician, who also taught botany at Senckenberg Institute. Fresenius was an expert on thallophytes. In 1848, de Bary graduated from the Gymnasium at Frankfurt, and began to study medicine at Heidelberg, continued at Marburg. In 1850, he went to Berlin to continue pursuing his study of medicine, and also continued to explore and develop his interest in plant science. He received his degree in medicine at Berlin in 1853, but his dissertation title was "De plantarum generatione sexuali", a botanical subject. The same year, he published a book on the fungi that caused rusts and smuts in plants.

Early life

After the graduation, de Bary practiced medicine in Frankfurt, but only for a very short period of time. He was drawn back to botany and became Privatdozent in botany at the University of Tübingen, where he worked as an assistant to Dr. Hugo von Mohl (1805–1872) for a while. In 1855, he succeeded the position of the well-known botanist Karl Wilhelm von Nägeli (1818–1891) at Freiburg, where he established the most advanced botanical laboratory at the time and directed many students.

Marriage and academic work

De Bary married Antoni Einery in 1861; they raised four children. In 1867, de Bary moved to the University of Halle to succeed the position of Professor Diederich Franz Leonhard von Schlechtendal, who, with Hugo von Mohl, co-founded the pioneer botanical journal Botanische Zeitung. De Bary became the co-editor and later the sole editor of this journal. As an editor and a contributor of this journal, he exercised a great influence upon the development of botany. After the Franco-Prussian war (1870–1871), de Bary was appointed professor of botany at the University of Strasbourg, founder of the Jardin botanique de l'Université de Strasbourg, and also elected to the first rector (president) of the reorganized university. He conducted many research in the university botanical institute and attracted many students from Europe and America, and made a great contribution to the development of botany.

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