Pringsheim (30 November 1823 – 6 October 1894) was a
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Pringsheim was born at Landsberg, Prussian Silesia, and
studied at the universities of Breslau, Leipzig, and Berlin
successively. He graduated in 1848 as doctor of philosophy with the
thesis De forma et incremento stratorum crassiorum in plantarum
cellula, and rapidly became a leader in the great botanical
renaissance of the 19th century.
His contributions to scientific phycology were of striking interest.
Pringsheim was among the very first to demonstrate the occurrence of a
sexual process in this class of plants, and he drew from his
observations weighty conclusions as to the nature of sexuality.
Together with the French investigators Gustave Adolphe Thuret
Jean-Baptiste Édouard Bornet (1828-1911), Pringsheim
ranks as the founder of our scientific knowledge of the algae. Among
his researches in this field may be mentioned those on Vaucheria
Oedogoniaceae (1855-1858), the Coleochaeteae (1860),
Hydrodictyon (1861), and
Pandorina (1869); the last-mentioned memoir
bore the title Beobachtungen über die Paarung de Zoosporen. This was
a discovery of fundamental importance; the conjugation of zoospores
was regarded by Pringsheim, with good reason, as the primitive form of
A work on the course of morphological differentiation in the
Sphacelariaceae (1873), a family of marine algae, is of great
interest, inasmuch as it treats of evolutionary questions; the authors
point of view is that of
Karl Wilhelm von Nägeli
Karl Wilhelm von Nägeli (1817-1891) rather
than Darwin. Closely connected with Pringsheim's algological work was
his long-continued investigation of the Saprolegniaceae, a family of
algoid fungi, some of which have become notorious as the causes of
disease in fish.
Among his contributions to our knowledge of the higher plants, his
exhaustive monograph on the curious genus of water-ferns, Salvinia,
deserves special mention. His career as a morphologist culminated in
1876 with the publication of a memoir on the alternation of
generations in thallophytes and mosses. From 1874 to the close of his
life Pringsheim's activity was chiefly directed to physiological
questions: he published, in a long series of memoirs, a theory of the
carbon-assimilation of green plants, the central point of which is the
conception of the chlorophyll-pigment as a screen, with the main
function of protecting the protoplasm from light-rays which would
neutralize its assimilative activity by stimulating too active
respiration. This view has not been accepted as offering an adequate
explanation of the phenomena.
Pringsheim founded in 1858, and edited
till his death, the classical Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche
Botanik, which still bears his name. He was also founder, in 1882, and
first president, of the German Botanical Society.
His work was for the most part carried on in his private laboratory in
Berlin; he only held a teaching post of importance for four years,
1864-1868, when he was professor at Jena. In early life he was a keen
politician on the Liberal side. He died in Berlin.
A fuller account of Pringsheim's career will be found in Nature,
(1895) vol. Ii., and in the Berichte der deutschen botanischen
Gesellschaft, (1895) vol. xiii. The latter is by his friend and
colleague, Ferdinand Cohn.
The standard botanical author abbreviation Pringsh. is applied to
species he described.
^ a b c d e f Scott 1911, p. 350.
^  Archived February 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Scott, Dukinfield Henry (1911). "Pringsheim,
Nathanael". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th
ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 350. A fuller account
of Pringsheim's career will be found in:
Nature, (1895) vol. Ii.
Ferdinand Cohn (1895) Berichte der deutschen botanischen Gesellschaft,
ISNI: 0000 0000 8143 4900
BNF: cb12564115t (data)