The peerless work of Kylin

Algologia algologia at TELIA.COM
Thu Dec 19 18:12:33 CST 2002

The third algologist of this trilogy, after Aulin (18 Dec. 2000) and Bohlin
(19 Dec. 2001), is the man whose 150 publications span over a period of 50
years and focus strictly on the physiology and taxonomy of seaweeds. In the
heart of this amazing accomplishment lies what Skottsberg called 'the
national line' - the study of the home flora. It marks Kylin's first paper,
at the age of 27, and his last work shortly before his death. Still the
magnificent 'Die Gattungen der Rhodophyceen' was to appear posthumously,
but this was ready years ago and was postponed until a grant secured its
publication in 1956.

Three biographies have been published, while a commemoration of Kylin's
major scientific contributions made a chapter of the book 'Prominent
Phycologists of the 20th Century'. Reading these, the ingredients of
Kylin's success become apparent: hard work, strong will, and pathos for the
algal mysteries. The driving force was always the exploration of new
territory, and on this point Kylin did not rely upon his home flora only.

Yet, the 'national line' was significant to advance academically, and then
he soon turned to the diversity of the world. Having understood the core of
systematics, he starts immediately the preparation of monographs of red and
brown algal groups, armed with the Agardhian herbarium and his own

For those unfamiliar with the magnitude of Kylin's work, we can refer to
'Die Gattungen der Rhodophyceen' where he describes and classifies some 680
genera within 2 subclasses, 11 orders, and 48 families, evaluating the
system founded by Schmitz and Oltmanns that entirely depends upon light
microscopy characters. This work remains unsuperseded and is unlikely to be
replaced in our time.

Kylin demanded from his students to work as hard as he, asking for daily
results, and did not hesitate to express severe criticisms in a manner that
was slightly warm to make him popular. Nevertheless, his teaching methods
gave results as he left behind many successors.

Early in 1950, a popular journal of biology had the announcement: '...Prof.
emeritus Harald Kylin...a prominent scholar of algal physiology and
systematics...Known is his statement at the disputation of a PhD candidate:
of this thesis the only valuable part was the literature list.'

with wishes for better theses,

books, reprints, courses:

More information about the Taxacom mailing list