Abstract Detail

Botanical History

Grant, Jason [1].

The mycological and botanical legacy of Swiss naturalist Jean-Frédéric Chaillet (1747-1839).

A modest naturalist, Jean-Frédéric Chaillet (1747-1839) catalogued the plant and fungal life of the Neuchâtel region of the Jura Mountains in French-speaking Switzerland, the watchmaking ‘Silicon Valley’ of the Age of Enlightenment. To document this, he amassed an exhaustive herbarium of flowering plants, bryophytes, algae, lichens, and fungi. But, since he published little or nothing, Chaillet’s place in history has been largely obscured. The recent identification and study of his catalogues and manuscripts demonstrate his importance as a compiler of knowledge of European organismal biology, especially mycology. Chaillet’s herbarium and associated material kept at the University of Neuchâtel (NEU) and his personal botanical library at the Public and University Library of Neuchâtel (BPUN) have been databased and cross-referenced to understand his work methods. His collections of bryophytes, lichens, and fungi in bound volumes are nearly unique in science and are some of the oldest known collections of cryptogams. This technique demonstrates a passion and meticulosity rarely seen in herbaria, leading us to a study of the history of the object itself. Comparison with botanical practices of other 18th–century botanists, has revealed a conscientious and humble figure content to remain in the shadows. His discoveries, especially over 150 new species of fungi, were published during his lifetime by others, notably Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle (1806-1893) in Geneva, the founding father of systematic mycology, Christian Hendrik Persoon (1761-1836) in Paris, and Elias Magnus Fries (1794-1878) in Uppsala. For example, the ‘spruce cone ascomycete’ Phragmotrichum chailletii Kunze (1823), named in his honor from specimens he collected in Neuchâtel is widespread in the northern hemisphere (even in Alaska!). Chaillet also discovered the ‘spring orange peel fungus’, Caloscypha fulgens (Persoon) Boud. (1885), based on Peziza fulgens Persoon (1822), and the basidiomycete Sarcodon bubalinus (Persoon) Maas Geest (1956), based on Hydnum bubalinum Persoon (1825). Therefore, we ask what is Chaillet’s place in history? Is he one of the earliest ‘citizen scientists’?

1 - University of Neuchatel, Laboratory of evolutionary genetics, Emile-Argand 11, Neuchatel, Neuchatel, 2000, Switzerland

new species.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: BH1002
Abstract ID:474
Candidate for Awards:None

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