Georg Melchers

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Johann Georg Friedrich Melchers (born January 7, 1906 in Cordingen near Fallingbostel , † November 22, 1997 in Tübingen ) was a German biologist .

Melchers studied natural sciences at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg , especially zoology with Hans Spemann , and from 1926 at the Georg August University of Göttingen , especially botany with Fritz von Wettstein and Theodor Schmucker . In 1930 he was promoted to Dr. phil. is doing his doctorate with a dissertation on the evolutionary adaptation of plants to different ecotopes. He then worked as an assistant at Wettstein in Göttingen and from 1931 in Munich. From 1934 he worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWI) for Biology in Berlin , where he followed Wettstein and from 1938 worked in virus research under Adolf Butenandt . In 1941 he became head of the Virus Research Center at the KWI for Biology and Biochemistry in Berlin, and from 1945 in Tübingen. From 1947 he was one of the three directors of the later Max Planck Institute for Biology (with Max Hartmann , Alfred Kühn ). He was also a professor at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen . After retiring in 1976, he continued to work in the laboratory and from 1984 was one of the five directors of the Agrogenetic Corporation in Tokyo, switching between Tübingen and Japan for eight years.

His research areas were heredity, plant viruses , evolution and developmental physiology . Together with Anton Lang , he made important contributions to vernalization , phototropism and the role of hormones in the physiology of flowering at the KWI for Biology . He contributed to the elucidation of the genetic code of the tobacco mosaic virus . In the 1970s he developed a new method for fusing plant cells (fusion of protoplasts), with which hybrids of closely related species can be produced. In 1970 a plant was first grown from isolated protoplasts and in 1973 the first hybrid plants from fused protoplasts. In collaboration with the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen, he produced the first hybrids of potatoes and tomatoes (Karmate, Tomoffel).

He was an honorary member of the German Botanical Society . In 1984 he became an external member of the National Academy of Sciences . He was a member of the Académie des Sciences , the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and the Japan Academy .

He was from 1934 on the editorial board of the Zeitschrift für Vererbungslehre (later Molecular and General Genetics). He had a great influence on the biological research of the Max Planck Society. For thirteen years he was for the SPD in the municipal council of Tübingen, but resigned from the party in 1985.


  • A botanist on the way to general biology even in times of moral and material destruction, reports German Botanical Society, Volume 100, 1987, 373–405 (memories)


  • CD-ROM lexicon of natural scientists . Directmedia, Berlin 2004
  • Ilse Jahn (Ed.): History of Biology . 3rd edition, Jena 1998, special edition Hamburg: Nikol, 2004.
  • Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich . Who was what before and after 1945 . 2nd Edition. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8 .
  • Hans Stubbe : Georg Melchers - 70 years . In: Molecular and general genetics . Volume 143, 1975, pp. 1–3 (with picture)
  • JS and HFL: Prof. Dr. Georg Melcher's 75 Years Old . In: Theoretical and applied genetics . Volume 59, 1981, p. 65 (with picture)

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