Professor Yongjia Duan: a distinguished plant pathologist and agricultural educator
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Professor Yongjia Duan (段永嘉) is a distinguished plant pathologist and agricultural educator in China. He has devoted his entire life in developing and sharing his knowledge and experiences in Plant Pathology.
Prof. Duan had teaching experience in several universities, such as Jiangsu Educational College, Guangxi University and Hunan Agricultural College. At the end of 1944, he was introduced to the Agricultural College at Yunnan University by Prof. Haiqiu Zhang (张海秋), the Dean of the Agricultural College. During that period, Prof. Duan developed deep friendships and scientific relationships with Profs. Fenlan Dai (戴芬澜) and Dafu Yu (俞大绂), the pioneers in the field of plant pathology; Prof. Shanbao Jin (金善宝), a famous wheat expert; Prof. Jueming Wang (汪厥明), a biostatistician; Prof. Wanjun Zheng (郑万钧), a forestry scientist and Prof. Xingyuan Lu (陆星垣), a sericulture expert. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Prof. Duan served as the head of the Agricultural College at Yunnan University. In 1958, the Agricultural College became independent of Yunnan University as Kunming Agriculture and Forestry College, and later on developed as Yunnan Agricultural University in 1970. In 1976, Prof. Duan became the head of the Department of Plant Protection at Yunnan Agricultural University. As the founder and lifelong contributor to higher agricultural education in Yunnan, even retiring in 1989, he never left education and research positions until he passed away at the age of 95.
Prof. Duan was also engaged in the researches of rice bacterial blight and rice blast and found the transmission source of rice bacterial blight for the first time in China. He found that the roots and stems of six kinds of weeds, such as crabgrass, could carry and transmit rice bacterial blight (Pathology Teaching and Research Group of Agronomy Department in Agricultural University, 1976a, b). Later on, this research finding was confirmed by researchers from independent groups in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui provinces, attracted the attentions of plant pathologists in China and abroad, and has been written into the textbooks for Universities.
It was still controversial back then on the physiological races of rice blast fungus all over the world. Some researchers in the Philippines asserted that due to the variability of rice blast fungus, it was meaningless to study its physiological races. However, Prof. Duan conducted a detailed study on the variability of rice blast fungus and showed that despite of the variation, rice blast fungus displayed relative stability. He screened out seven rice identification varieties and four strains, and clarified the main physiological races and distribution of rice blast in Yunnan, and also performed pioneer work on the analysis of rice blast resistance genes and the study of genetic laws. In addition, a lot of research has been done on plant viruses (Pathology Teaching and Research Group of Agronomy Department in Agricultural University, 1976; Duan et al, 1979).
Prof. Duan played important roles in organizing international scientific and technological exchanges. In 1981, he invited three famous Japanese pathologists to give lectures in Kunming. 244 students all over China attended these lectures. He personally translated the materials and served as a translator during those lectures. This event was highly praised by the teachers and the students. He also organized 7 large-scale international academic exchanges to strengthen the friendship and scientific connections for plant pathologists from China and Japan.
Prof. Duan has obtained 7 national, provincial and ministerial scientific research awards, and was also elected as the national agricultural labor model and received the special government allowance of the State Council. He also served as an advisor for the Chinese Society of Plant Pathology, chairman of the Southwest Branch of the Chinese Society of Plant Diseases, and chairman of the Yunnan Plant Protection Society. He made outstanding contributions to agricultural education and researches in the Yunnan province.
Prof. Duan had worked hard in the field of plant pathology for 54 years and made outstanding contributions to the development of plant pathology in China. Prof. Duan has already left us, however, he has given us lots of precious spiritual wealth, such as his moral nobility, selfless dedication, rigorous style of scientific research, compassionate and generous tolerance.
- Duan Y (1947) Plant etiology. The Commercial Press, Beijing (in Chinese, 植物病原菌学, 商务印书馆)Google Scholar
- Duan Y (1957) The preliminary investigation on the main crop pathogens in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan. (in Chinese, 云南西双版纳傣族自治州主要农作物病菌的调查初报)Google Scholar
- Duan Y (1958) The preliminary report on major crop diseases in Yunnan. (in Chinese, 云南省主要农作物病害名录初报)Google Scholar
- Pathology Teaching and Research Group of Agronomy Department in Agricultural University (1976a) The preliminary report on the weeds carrying pathogen and overwintering of Xanthomonas oryzae pv.oryzae. Yunnan. Agric. Sci. Tech. 2:25–29 (in Chinese, 水稻白叶枯病杂草带菌和越冬问题的研究初报, 云南农大科技)Google Scholar
- Pathology Teaching and Research Group of Agronomy Department in Agricultural University (1976b) Primary report on physiological race differentiation of Pyricularia oryzae. Yunnan. Agric. Sci. Tech. 1:14–24 (in Chinese, 稻瘟病菌生理分化研究初报, 云南农大科技)Google Scholar
- Duan Y, Wang Y, Chen H, Zhang Z (1979) Studies on physiological race differentiation of Pyricularia oryzae (second report). Yunnan. Agric. Sci. Tech. 2:1–7 (in Chinese, 稻瘟病生理分化研究 (第二报), 云南农大科技)Google Scholar
- Zhu Y, Xiao H (1986) How did Professor Yongjia Duan cultivate postgradates. Commun. Postgrad. (in Chinese, 段永嘉教授是怎样培养研究生的, 研究生通讯)Google Scholar
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