PERRY WILLIAM WILSON

November 25, 1902-August 17, 1981

BY ROBERT H. BURRIS

PERY WILSON, more than any other individual, turned studies of biological nitrogen fixation from a descriptive to a quantitative and analytical emphasis. Nitrogen deficiency more frequently limits plant growth than does any other deficit except water. Certain procaryotic organisms can convert nitrogen from the atmosphere to a form that plants can use. Wilson's research laid the groundwork for the phenomenal increase in studies on the biochemistry, genetics, and physiology of biological nitrogen fixation, a process vital to maintenance of the nitrogen cycle on earth.

Perry William Wilson was born in Bonanza, Arkansas. The family moved from Bonanza to Oklahoma and thence to Terre Haute, Indiana, when Perry still was very young. The possessions and income of the family were modest.

Perry Wilson, in an autobiographical sketch introducing the 1972 Annual Reviews of Microbiology about ''Training a Microbiologist,'' said,

My thesis is that one's training comes from many sources, none of which should be overlooked or overemphasized. A widely held belief is that one's career often reflects early influences. As the twig is inclined. My own early training can hardly furnish a test case since I never attended a school long enough to become inclined toward anything. A member of a



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