September 3, 1902-November 24, 1998
BY ARNEL R. HALLAUER
GEORGE F. SPRAGUE conducted research in the genetics and breeding of corn for nearly seventy years. His career spanned the interval from the initial studies on the potential of the inbred-hybrid concept for the development of inbred lines to produce hybrids in the 1920s to the potential of molecular genetics for the improvement of lines and hybrids in the 1990s. Throughout his seventy-year career, he always had an active research program. Sprague was a dedicated biologist who had an interest in all facets of maize genetics and breeding. He was trained in classical genetics, but he also made significant contributions to understanding the inheritance of quantitative traits; experimental methods for evaluation of lines for use in hybrids; relative efficiency of evaluating hybrids over locations and years; development and improvement of germplasm resources for the extraction of lines for use in hybrids; types of genetic effects important for the expression of heterosis; and identification of transposable elements that contributed to genetic variation.
Sprague was primarily interested in basic research, but he always emphasized that the applied aspect of research needed to be integrated with the basic research. Based on