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Historical Records of Australian Science Historical Records of Australian Science Society
The history of science, pure and applied, in Australia, New Zealand and the southwest Pacific

Historical Records of Australian Science

Historical Records of Australian Science

Historical Records of Australian Science records the history of science, pure and applied, in Australia, New Zealand and the southwest Pacific. Read more about the journalMore

Editors: Sara Maroske and Ian Rae

Publishing Model: Hybrid. Open Access options available.

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Current Issue

Historical Records of Australian Science

Volume 35 Number 1 2024

graphical abstract image

Insects are a major component of Australia’s biodiversity. The early discovery and description of this fauna was largely contributed by talented entomologists. From the late 1880s, Broken Hill pharmacist Oswald Bertram Lower revealed the extraordinary moth fauna of the mallee and arid zone especially. A summary and context for his pioneering work is now available here. The ecological restoration of these habitats will increasingly draw on Lower’s historical collection and insights.

HR23019William (Bill) Francis Budd 1938–2022

Ian Allison 0000-0001-9599-0251, Jo Jacka and Derek Budd
pp. 16-27

Photograph of Bill Budd in 1993.

Professor William (Bill) Budd, the first glaciology program leader of the Australian Antarctic Division, was a founding figure in Australian glaciological research. Bill worked on an enormous range of glaciological and climate problems. He developed numerical models to simulate the interactive response of Antarctica to global warming and the waxing and waning of ice ages. He introduced many new studies and technologies and much of what he initiated more than fifty years ago remains core to the present Australian Antarctic program. Photograph credit: Australian Academy of Science.

HR23016Ian McDougall 1935–2018

David Phillips 0000-0001-7256-6730
pp. 28-38

Photograph of Ian McDougall.

Ian McDougall was an internationally renowned Earth scientist who spent most of his academic career at the Australian National University. This memoir outlines his research achievements in the fields of K-Ar and 40Ar/39Ar geochronology, from his pioneering work on young volcanics that supported the emerging theory of plate tectonics, to the establishment of a comprehensive geochronological framework for hominin evolution in eastern Africa. Photograph by Warren Hudson, ANU Photographic Services.

HR23021Raymond Leslie Martin 1926–2020

Lisandra L. Martin 0000-0003-0486-5813
pp. 39-50

Photograph of Raymond (Ray) Martin, about 1951.

Ray Martin (1926–2020) was an accomplished academic and leader whose remarkable contributions and discoveries earned him numerous awards and accolades. One of natures gentlemen, he found joy in sports, the arts, and creative pursuits. With a passion for science, he navigated an adventurous career path from academia to industry, management and leadership, including advising the Australian Federal Government, all while forming deep friendships and leaving a lasting legacy as an outstanding teacher and mentor—a quiet achiever.

Photograph of Sir Rupert Myers.

Metallurgist Rupert Horace Myers (1921–2019) was awarded Australia’s first ‘science’ PhD degree in 1948. After working at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell in the United Kingdom, he made his career at the University of New South Wales, where he was vice-chancellor from 1969 to 1981. Knighted in 1981, he was a model of scientific and academic leadership in Australia. Photograph provided by the Australian Academy of Science (photographer unknown).

Online Early

The peer-reviewed and edited version of record published online before inclusion in an issue

A photograph of a portrait painting of George Percy Darnell‐Smith, by Mary Will‐Slade, entered for the Archibald Prize in 1931.

Darnell-Smith developed a dry treatment for controlling the hitherto severe wheat disease common bunt. His groundbreaking work was done during the First World War in field experiments at Wagga Wagga and Cowra and widely reported in Australian newspapers. The treatment with copper carbonate dust was highly effective and simpler to apply than the previously used ‘wet pickles’. Despite this, uptake by farmers was slow until popularised in America so that by 1930 bunt had become a rarely seen disease. Photograph of painting by Dr Jordan Bailey.

Published online 11 January 2024

HR23006Wattle gall—the quintessential Australian plant disease

Malcolm J. Ryley 0000-0003-3699-1240

Gall of Uromycladium tepperanium on Acacia leiocalyx.

The wattles (Acacia species) are an ancient and iconic Australian genus of trees and shrubs which form part of the identity of the nation. Galls were a common feature on wattle trees, initially being attributed to the activity of some insects, but later a genus of rust fungi, Uromycladium, was found to also cause galls. The lives of two of the early collectors of wattle rust galls, Otto Tepper and Charles Brittlebank, are also illuminated in this paper. Photograph by Alastair McTaggart.

Black and white photograph of Henry Tryon taken in 1929.

In 1894, the Queensland government entomologist, and later vegetable pathologist, Henry Tryon (1856–1943) discovered a new disease that caused potato tubers to become rotted and putrid. He consistently found bacterial cells in a thick mucilaginous gum in the vascular tissues of wilted stems and infected tubers, and gave it the name Bacillus vascularum solani. The American bacteriologist Erwin Frink Smith would not accept Tryon’s discovery, instead naming the causal agent Pseudomonas solanacearum. That bacterium, now called Ralstonia solanacearum is a significant plant pathogen worldwide. Photograph by an unknown person.

Photograph of Reverend Julian Edmund Tenison-Woods.

Among the fungi recorded in a paper published in the 1880 Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of New South Wales was Sphaerella destructiva, now Pseudopeziza medicaginis, the cause of common leaf spot of lucerne. The paper, co-authored by the naturalist Reverend Julian Tenison-Woods and the Queensland Government Botanist Frederick Manson Bailey was the first known comprehensive list of Australian fungi published by Australian residents. It is a milestone in the evolution of mycology and plant pathology studies in Australia. Photograph by H. H. Baily.

Published online 24 November 2023

HR23008A prickly business—Edward Shelton, Henry Tryon and the mysterious pineapple disease

Malcolm J. Ryley 0000-0003-3699-1240 and Andre Drenth

A portrait of Johann Christian Simon Handt who is credited with growing the first pineapple crops in Queensland.

In the early 1890s a serious mystery disease appeared in pineapple plantations around Brisbane, Queensland. The American-born Professor Edward Shelton, Queensland’s first instructor in agriculture, Henry Tryon, assistant curator at the Queensland Museum, and others inspected diseased plants and concluded that the disease was caused by a fungus, later identified as the oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomi. Shelton went on to become the first principal of the Gatton Agricultural College, but was forced to resign after severely disciplining some of the students. Photograph by an unknown person.

Published online 23 November 2023

HR23011The discovery of gumming disease of sugarcane in Australia

Malcolm J. Ryley 0000-0003-3699-1240

Photograph of Nathan Cobb, who worked on the gumming disease of sugar cane.

At the start of the decade of 1890, sugarcane growers in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales began to notice a serious disease affecting their crops. American-born Nathan Cobb, who was the New South Wales Government Vegetable Pathologist, discovered that a bacterium, now known as Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. vasculorum, was the cause of the disease. Although others were not convinced that Cobb had conclusively proved that the bacterium was the causal agent, it was for many years known as ‘Cobb’s gumming disease of cane’.

Published online 23 November 2023

HR23005Stem rust of wheat in colonial Australia and the development of the plant pathology profession

Malcolm J. Ryley 0000-0003-3699-1240 and Robert F. Park

Portrait of Joseph Holt, discoverer of stem rust of wheat on Brush Farm in 1803.

Grain production in the early years of colonisation in Australia was hampered by poor farming practices, lack of livestock, and belligerent, unenthusiastic convict labour. In 1803, just when the situation began to improve, stem rust of wheat was discovered by the exiled Irish rebel ‘General’ Joseph Holt on Brush Farm, owned by Captain William Cox. The disease, which has remained a threat to wheat production ever since, found its way into ironic Australian literature, including Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie letter. Photograph from an original picture in the possession of Sir William Bentham painted in 1798, Day & Haghe lithrs. to the Queen, Trove, Accessed August 2021.

Published online 05 September 2023

HR23015The discovery of tomato spotted wilt virus

Andrew D. W. Geering 0000-0002-5743-6804

graphical abstract image

Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is one of the most economically important viruses in the world. Before it became a global problem, it devastated tomato crops in Australia. This paper describes how TSWV was identified and biologically characterised by Australian scientists at a time when few techniques existed to detect the virus. It is a remarkable story of human endeavour by a small team of people working in academic isolation.

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