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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 91
DAVID DEXTER PERKINS
May 2, 1919–January 2, 2007
BY ROWLAND H. DAVIS
DAVID PERKINS HAS A UNIQUE PLACE in the history of fungal biology and genetics. His extensive contributions to the field began shortly after Beadle and Tatum presented clear evidence of the relation of genes and enzymes (1941, 1945). They used the filamentous fungus Neurospora as their experimental organism. While Beadle and Tatum popularized the use of microorganisms in the molecular revolution that followed, David Perkins assured the continuing status of Neurospora as a model organism used for many other types of study (Davis, 2000, 2003; Davis and Perkins, 2002). He did so largely through his extensive studies of its genetics, cytogenetics, population biology, and mating systems. In addition, his laboratory contributed, over a period of 55 years, many new techniques, compendia of all known mutant strains, updated genetic maps, and exchange of information among a global community of Neurospora researchers. As Charles Yanofsky said in a recent memorial tribute,1 “Beadle and Tatum initiated research using this organism, but it was David who made certain that this interest would continue.” The new field of fungal genetics and biology originated with the Neurospora community, and David can claim perhaps the greatest role in its origin.