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Historical Section

Fike, Jennifer A. [1], Barkley, Grant M. [2].

Joseph C. Arthur At Cornell [1884-1887]: First Station Botanist and Work with Bacteria As Plant Pathogens.

Joseph Charles Arthur [1850-1942] was one of the new generation of professionals to receive the benefits of training under the new Agricultural College System. With the establishment of both land grant institutions and agricultural experiment stations, botany became a legitimate experimental science, to the benefit of an agrarian society. In 1883, after an apprentice period working with Bessey, Farlow and Goodale on the systematics of Cryptogams and as botany instructor at both Wisconsin and Minnesota, Arthur was recruited by Dr. E. L. Sturtevant, Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. By May of 1884, Arthur had assumed duties as the first Station Botanist at Geneva. Arthur promptly began work on a number of orchard diseases including "pear blight" or "fire blight". In 1884, he recorded a series of inoculations made to trees of Flemish Beauty pear. Arthur's Experiment 84, began as inoculation made on 26 July 1884, from an infusion of blight of apple secured from a local nursery. The following year, after the tree had become noticeably infected. Arthur used a "small fragment of wood...." from the diseased tree to produce an inoculum employed in several critical experiments. Arthur, using a dilution method, used the last of a series of six serial transfers to successfully produce infection in a ripe Bartlett pear. His work was published in the Botanical Gazette for Sept. - Oct. 1885, and was the first convincing and established proof that bacteria could be the cause of a plant disease. This work also provided the basis for his thesis entitled "History and Biology of Pear Blight" for which he was awarded Doctor of Science degree in 1886. This being the first Science Doctorate awarded by Cornell and the first degree awarded by any university in the field of plant pathology.

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1 - Kent State University, English, 330 University Drive NE, New Philadelphia, Ohio, 44663, United States
2 - Kent State University, Biological Sciences, 4314 Mahoning Avenue, Warren, Ohio, 44483, United States

Joseph C. Arthur
pear blight
plant disease
plant pathology.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 46-1
Location: 412/Hilton
Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2005
Time: 9:15 AM
Abstract ID:463

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