Dr. Henry Martin Munger
Henry Martin Munger of Cornell University stands out as a premier
vegetable breeder, classical geneticist, and educator. He
received his B.S. in 1936 and from his 1941 doctoral research came
the first fusarium wilt-resistant muskmelon, 'Iroquois'. This
was just the beginning of a very productive fifty five year career.
more than fifty varieties of cucumbers including whole lines of
"Spacemasters", "Poinsetts", "Tablegreens" and "Marketmores". Nearly
all U.S. slicing cucumbers benefit from inheriting disease resistance and
improved color directly attributable to Dr. Munger's breeding program.
Additionally, it is estimated that half of
all commercial carrots sold in the U.S. and Europe can trace heritage back
to a discovery of Dr. Munger. In 1953 while picking blueberries in
Orleans, Massachusetts, he found a wild carrot plant with pink-petaled
flowers instead of white. This plant ended up being a rare
male-sterile variety and
the mother stock for hybrid carrot seed production.
In an interview with Biotech
Reporter, he lamented the toll that agricultural biotechnology was having
on traditional plant breeding by diverting funding and students away from
conventional plant breeding.1
He is proof that traditional plant breeding methods work, are productive,
and yield economically viable plant varieties.
Dr. Munger passed away on August
25, 2010 in Ithaca, New York.
Click here for his obituary.
K. Wrage, "A lost generation of plant
researchers," Biotech Reporter 12(7): 1, 4, July 1995.
Obituary of Norma