Page:History of botany (Sachs; Garnsey).djvu/227

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Chap. V.]
The Influence of the History of Development.

the escape of the zoospores of Vaucheria. The remarkable thing is, not that such views were entertained, but that the majority of botanists combined with them a belief in the constancy of species. But this dogma rendered good service to the science in this instance, for the botanists, who at a later time applied themselves to the systematic examination of the Algae and Fungi, confided in the constancy of the processes of development in each species, which they expected would assert itself in these forms as in the Mosses and higher plants.

With much that was obscure and doubtful, the result of occasional observation accompanied by uncritical interpretation, the literature of the subject had contained for some time a certain number of single well-established facts of real importance, which were well adapted to serve as starting-points for earnest and exact investigation. Among the Algae the genera Spirogyra and Vaucheria especially had supplied remarkable phenomena; Joseph Gärtner observed the formation of zygospores in Spirogyra in 1788, Hedwig saw in the mode of their production at least a suggestion of sexuality (1798), and Vaucher[1], in his 'Histoire de Conferves d'eau douce,' which appeared in 1803 and was far in advance of its time, called conjugation distinctly a sexual process; the optical means at his disposal did not enable him to observe the fertilisation in Vaucheria (Ectosperma), which was named after him, though he described the sexual organs accurately; the movement also of the zoospores in this genus escaped him, and Trentepohl first observed their escape and swarming in 1807[2]. Vaucher had also observed the formation of new nets in the old cells of Hydrodictyon, and Areschoug repeated the observation in 1842, when he saw the swarming of young cells in the old ones. Bischoff, as early as 1828, saw the spermatozoids of

  1. Jean Pierre Étienne Vaucher, the instructor and friend of P. de Candolle, was a minister and professor in Geneva.
  2. Trentepohl's communication is to be found in the 'Botanische Bermerkungen und Berichtigungen' of A. W. Roth, Leipsic, 1807.