Heinrich Anton de Bary (1831-1888)

Heinrich Anton de Bary
Heinrich Anton de Bary

Heinrich Anton de Bary (26 January 1831 – 19 January 1888) is considered as Father of Mycology and Plant Pathology. He was a German botanist, mycologist and microbiologist. de Bary was born on 26 January, 1831 in Frankfurt and died on 19 January, 1888 in Strasburg in Germany.
De Bary did his graduate in 1848 from Gymnasium at Frankfurt. He then started studying medicine at Heidelberg and at Marburg. He received the degree of medicine in 1853 at Berlin. However, his dissertation was in a botanical subject entitled “De plantarum generatione sexuali". Meanwhile he also published a book on rust and smut causing fungi. His interest in botany came from the George Fresenius, a physician also teaching botany at Senckenberg Institute.
After very short period of practice in medicine, de Bary was drawn back to the botany. He did work as Privatdozent in botany at the University of Tübingen as an assistant of Hugo von Mohl. Very soon he succeeded Karl Wilhelm von Nägeli (a renowned botanist) at Freiburg. De Bary was appointed as professor at University of Halle in 1867, where he has significantly contributed to field of mycology and plant pathology.


  • He had studied and elucidated the life cycle Phytophthora infestans (earlier known as Peronospora infestans) causing devastation in potato at that time (Irish famine of 1845).
  • He studied the uredinales and ustilaginales causing rust and smut in plants.
  • He studied the life history of myxomycetes (slime molds).
  • In 1861 he described for the first-time sexual reproduction in fungi (Peronospora).
  • He coined a new term ‘symbiosis’ for “the living together of unlike organisms”.

E J Butler (1874-1943) (FRS)

E J Butler
Sir Edwin John Butler

Edwin John Butler is called as Father of Mycology and Plant Pathology in India. He was an Irish mycologist and plant pathologist. He studied the medicine at Queen’s College, Cork in 1898. He however, did not practise. Rather, He began to work on Pythium and Saprolegnia. He then studied mycology at Kew, Paris and Freiburg. In 1901, He was appointed as Cryptogamic Botanist to the British Indian Government. He worked 20 years in British India. He initially worked to the Botanical Survey of India (Calcutta), then he was transferred to Dehradun and Agricultural Research Station at Pusa in 1902 and 1905 respectively. He was then appointed at Imperial Mycologist in 1906 and Director of the Agriculture College, Pusa from 1910. During his British Indian carrier, he worked out on diseases of sugar cane and palms. He also worked on wilt of pigeon pea and rust of wheat. An outstanding contribution, “Fungi and Disease in Plants: An Introduction to the Diseases of Field and Plantation Crops, especially those of India and the East” (1918) became reference for the plant pathologist of tropical region. He identified 150 species of plant pathogenic fungi.
After working for 20 years he left the British India and settled in Landon. He was then appointed as Director of the new Imperial Bureau of Mycology at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. In 1930, he published “Fungi of India” with G.R. Bisby.


K C Mehta (1892-1950) (INSA)

K C Mehta
Prof. KC Mehta (1892-1950)

Professor Karam Chand Mehta (K C Mehta) obtained his PhD (1922) and ScD (1941) from University of Cambridge. He served as the Professor of Botany (1923) and Principal (1945), Agra College, Agra. He also served as Dean, Faculty of Science, Agra University (1944).
Professor K C Mehta is known for his outstanding contribution on recurrence of wheat rust in northern plains of India. He found that, uredospores die because of high temperature during the summer and there are no barberry plants in the planes of northern India to compete the life cycle of Puccinia graminis. Hence, he established laboratories at Agra and Shimla to study the role uredospores coming from wheat grown on hills. He found that, uredospores coming from wheat grown in late season on hills were responsible of wheat rust in northern planes. He suggested that, it could be controlled by late season wheat and barley plant eradication and replacement by non-host plants.