Blakeslee, Albert Francis


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Blakeslee, Albert Francis,

1874–1954, American botanist, b. Genesee, New York. He received his Ph.D. at Harvard (1904) and was a member of the faculty until 1907. After several years as professor at Connecticut Agricultural College (now the Univ. of Connecticut), he joined the staff of the Carnegie Institution of Washington at Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., and later served as its director (1936–41). In 1943 he became director of the Smith College Genetics Experiment Station. From his earliest research, the discovery of sexual reproduction in bread molds, his contributions to botany and genetics were of far-reaching significance. His study of the inheritance and geographical distribution of the jimson weed, Datura, provided important information concerning chromosome behavior, genic balance, and species evolution. He introduced the use of the alkaloid colchicine to increase the number of chromosomes in the plant cell.

Blakeslee, Albert Francis

 

Born Nov. 9, 1874, in Geneseo, N. Y.; died Nov. 16,1954, in Northampton, Mass. American botanist and geneticist.

Blakeslee graduated from Wesleyan University in 1896. He served as director of the Genetics Experiment Station at Smith College in Northampton from 1943. His fundamental works involved the study of gene balance, chromosomal mutations, and species formation on a new (for geneticists) plant object—the thorn apple (Datura stramonium). In 1937, in collaboration with O. T. Avery, he discovered a method for producing polyploidic mutations in plants by the action upon them of the alkaloid colchicine. He was a pioneer in the method of cultivating plant embryos.

A. E. GAISINOVICH

Blakeslee, Albert Francis

(1874–1954) botanist; born in Geneseo, N.Y. After teaching in several American institutions and serving on collecting expeditions in Venezuela (1903) and Europe (1904–06), he became a professor at the Connecticut Agricultural College (1907–15). He then joined the Carnegie Station for Experimental Evolution, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. (1912–41, director 1936–41). He moved to Columbia University (1940–52), then Smith College (1942–54). Blakeslee used the chemical colchicine to induce polyploidy (multiplication of the number of chromosomes) to produce extra-large flowers, thus enabling commercial production of seeds for giant blooms. He also investigated sexuality in the common bread mold and mutations in Jimson weed, and he studied the inheritance of taste and smell.