Marcello Malpighi

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Malpighi, Marcello

(märchĕl`lō mälpē`gē), 1628–94, Italian anatomist. A pioneer in the use of the microscope, he made many valuable observations on the structure of plants and animals. He completed HarveyHarvey, William,
1578–1657, English physician considered by many to have laid the foundation of modern medicine, b. Folkestone, studied at Cambridge, M.D. Univ. of Padua, 1602. Returning to London, he became a physician of St.
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's theory of circulation by his observation of the movement of blood through capillaries and recorded this, as well as his work on the structure of the lung, in De pulmonibus (1661). He is noted also for his studies of the structure of glands and of the brain, spleen, liver, and kidneys; of the anatomy of the silkworm; of the embryology of the chick; and of plant tissues. Several anatomical parts bear his name, including a layer in the human skin and the excretory tubules in insects. He was professor at the Univ. of Bologna (1666–91).


See study by D. B. Meli (2011).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Malpighi, Marcello


Born Mar. 10, 1628, in Crevalcore; died Nov. 30, 1694, in Rome. Italian biologist and physician. Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

Malpighi studied at the University of Bologna, receiving his degree as M.D. there in 1653. He was a professor at the university from 1656 to 1691. Malpighi was one of the founders of plant and animal microscopic anatomy. Using a microscope that magnified up to 180 times, he studied plant anatomy, described the cellular structure of plants (although he did not understand its meaning), discovered the tracheae, established the presence of ascending and descending currents of matter, and discussed the role of leaves in the nutrition of plants. Malpighi described the lymphoid corpuscles of the spleen (Malpighian corpuscles); the renal glomeruli (Malpighian glomeruli); the excretory organs of Arachnida, Myriopoda, and Insecta (Malpighian tubules); the deep layer of the skin (Malpighian layer); blood cells; the alveoli of the lungs; and the taste buds of the tongue. He also discovered capillary circulation.


Opera omnia, vols. 1-2. London, 1687.
Opera posthuma …. London, 1697.


Lunkevich, V. V. Ot Geraklita do Darvina, 2nd ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1960. Pages 352-67.
Cardini, M. La vita e l’opera di Marcello Malpighi. Rome [1927].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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