Hofmeister, Wilhelm

Hofmeister, Wilhelm

(vĭl`hĕlm hōf`mī'stər), 1824–77, German botanist. Although self-taught, he made such valuable studies of the reproduction and development of plants that he was appointed professor, successively, at the universities of Heidelberg (1863) and Tübingen (1872). He demonstrated alternation of generations, especially in nonflowering plants, and described the behavior of the nucleus in cell formation.

Hofmeister, Wilhelm


Born May 18, 1824, in Leipzig; died Jan. 12, 1877, in Lindenau. German botanist.

Hofmeister was professor at the universities of Heidelberg (1863) and Tübingen (1872); he was one of the founders of the science of plant embryology. He described the formation of pods and of the embryo sac and the process of fertilization and development of the embryo in angiospermous plants (1849). Having studied the development cycles of higher plants (bryophytes, pteropsids, and gymnosperms), he established their alternation of generations—asexual (sporo-phytes) and sexual (gametophytes). At the same time he predicted the discovery of motile spermatozoids in gymnosperms (the discovery was made in 1896–97). His works were of great importance in confirming the theory of evolution, since even before Darwin he showed the phylogenetic identity of cryptogams and phanerogams. He wrote a number of works on the physiology of plants.


Die Entstehung des Embryo der Phanerogamen. Leipzig, 1849.
Vergleichende Untersuchungen der Keimung, Entfaltung und Fruchtbildung höherer Kryptogamen . . . und der Samenbildung der Coniferen. Leipzig, 1851.


Baranov, P. A. Istoriia embriologii rastenii. . . Moscow-Leningrad, 1955.
Goebel, K. E. von. Wilhelm Hofmeister: Arbeit und Leben. Leipzig, 1924.


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