Vincent Wigglesworth

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Sir Vincent Wigglesworth
Vincent Wigglesworth.jpg
Vincent Wigglesworth
Born(1899-04-17)17 April 1899
Wesham, Lancashire
Died11 February 1994(1994-02-11) (aged 94)
Known forMetamorphosis hormones
AwardsRoyal Medal (1955)
Fellow of the Royal Society
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge
Doctoral studentsPeter Lawrence

Sir Vincent Brian Wigglesworth CBE FRS[1] (17 April 1899 – 11 February 1994) was a British entomologist who made significant contributions to the field of insect physiology.[2][3] He established the field in a textbook which was updated in a number of editions.[4]

In particular, he studied metamorphosis. His most significant contribution was the discovery that neurosecretory cells in the brain of the South American kissing bug, Rhodnius prolixus, secrete a crucial hormone that triggers the prothoracic gland to release prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH), which regulates the process of metamorphosis.[5] This was the first experimental confirmation of the function of neurosecretory cells. He went on to discover another hormone, called the juvenile hormone, which prevented the development of adult characteristics in R. prolixus until the insect had reached the appropriate larval stage.[6] Wigglesworth was able to distort the developmental phases of the insect by controlling levels of this hormone. From these observations, Wigglesworth was able to develop a coherent theory of how an insect's genome can selectively activate hormones which determine its development and morphology.

Personal life[edit]

Wigglesworth served in the Royal Field Artillery in France in World War I. He received his degree from the University of Cambridge and lectured at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of London, and finally at the University of Cambridge.

He was named Quick Professor of Biology at the University of Cambridge in 1952, appointed CBE in 1951,[7] and knighted in 1964.[8]

Wigglesworth was President of the Royal Entomological Society from 1963 to 1964 and the Association of Applied Biologists from 1966 to 1967. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1960,[9] the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1971,[10] and the American Philosophical Society in 1982.[11]

He married Mable K Semple in St Albans in 1922.[12] They had four children.[13]

The bacterium Wigglesworthia glossinidia, which lives in the gut of the tsetse fly, is named for him.[14]



  • Insect physiologyInsect Physiology. London, New York. 1934. p. 152."Insect physiology". 1934.


  1. ^ Locke, M. (1996). "Sir Vincent Brian Wigglesworth, C. B. E. 17 April 1899-12 February 1994". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 42: 540–553. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1996.0032. S2CID 72922514.
  2. ^ Edwards, J. S. (1998). "Sir Vincent Wigglesworth and the coming of age of insect development". The International Journal of Developmental Biology. 42 (3): 471–473. PMID 9654033.
  3. ^ Edwards, J. (1994). "Sir Vincent Brian Wigglesworth (1899-1994)". Developmental Biology. 166 (2): VI–. doi:10.1006/dbio.1994.1322. PMID 7813762.
  4. ^ Wigglesworth, Vincent Brian (1934). Insect Physiology, etc. London: Methuen.
  5. ^ Wigglesworth, V.B. (1934). "The physiology of ecdysis in Rhodnius prolixus (Hemiptera). II Factors controlling moulting and metamorphosis". Q. J. Microsc. Sci. 77: 191–223.
  6. ^ J. A. V. Butler (1959). Inside the Living Cell. George Allen and Unwin. p. 79.
  7. ^ "No. 39104". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1951. p. 12.
  8. ^ "No. 43343". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 1964. p. 4938.
  9. ^ "Vincent Brian Wigglesworth". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  10. ^ "Vincent Wigglesworth". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  11. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  12. ^ General Registrars Office index of marriages
  13. ^ General Registrars Office index of births
  14. ^ Aksoy, S (1995). "Wigglesworthia gen. Nov. And Wigglesworthia glossinidia sp. nov., taxa consisting of the mycetocyte-associated, primary endosymbionts of tsetse flies" (PDF). International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology. 45 (4): 848–51. doi:10.1099/00207713-45-4-848. PMID 7547309. Retrieved 23 July 2016.

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