Miles Joseph Berkeley
Berkeley was born at Biggin Hall, Benefield, Northamptonshire, and educated at Rugby School and Christ's College, Cambridge. Taking holy orders, he became incumbent of Apethorpe in 1837, and vicar of Sibbertoft, near Market Harborough, in 1868. He acquired an enthusiastic love of cryptogamic botany (lichens) in his early years, and soon was recognized as the leading British authority on fungi and plant pathology. Christ's College made him an honorary fellow in 1883.
He was well known as a systematist in mycology with some 6000 species of fungi being credited to him, but his Introduction to Cryptogamic Botany, published in 1857, and his papers on Vegetable Pathology in the Gardener's Chronicle in 1854 and onwards, show that he had a broad grasp of the whole domain of physiology and morphology as understood in those days. Berkeley began his work as a field naturalist and collector, his earliest objects of study having been the mollusca and other branches of zoology, as testified by his papers in the Zoological Journal and the Magazine of Natural History, between 1828 and 1836.
As a microscopist he was an assiduous and accurate worker, as shown by his numerous drawings of the smaller algae and fungi, and his admirable dissections of mosses and Hepaticae. His investigations on the potato murrain, caused by Phytophthora infestans, on the grape mildew, to which he gave the name Oidium Tuckeri, and on the pathogenic fungi of wheat rust, hop mildew, and various diseases of cabbage, pears, coffee, onions, tomatoes, &c., were important in results bearing on the life-history of these pests, at a time when very little was known of such matters, and must always be considered in any historical account of the remarkable advances in the biology of these organisms which were made between 1850 and 1880. When it is remembered that this work was done without any of the modern appliances or training of a properly equipped laboratory, the real significance of Berkeley's pioneering work becomes apparent. It has been said that
"... when the history of Plant Pathology is elaborated, Berkeley's name will undoubtedly stand out more prominently than that of any other individual. In fact, it is not saying too much to pronounce Berkeley as the originator and founder of Plant Pathology."
As the founder of British mycology, his significant work is contained in the account of native British fungi in Sir W. Hooker's British Flora (1836), in his Introduction to Cryptogamic Botany (1857), and in his Outlines of British Fungology (1860). His herbarium at Kew is one of the word's most extensive, containing over 9000 specimens as well as numerous notes and sketches.
- A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. missing
- Massee, George (1913). "Miles Joseph Berkeley 1803—1889". In Oliver, Francis Wall. Makers of British Botany. Cambridge University Press. pp. 225–232.
- "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- "Author Query for 'Berk.'". International Plant Names Index.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
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- Taylor, George (1970). "Berkeley, Miles Joseph". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 18–19. ISBN 0-684-10114-9.
- Griffith, John William; Henfrey, Arthur; Berkeley, Miles Joseph; Jones, Thomas Rupert (1883). The Micrographic Dictionary; A Guide to the Examination and Investigation of the Structure and Nature of Microscopic Objects, Illustrated by Fifty-Three Plates and Eight Hundred and Eighteen Woodcuts, Containing Figures of 2680 Objects. Volume II -- Plates. London: John Van Voorst. Retrieved 2009-04-07.