ICE | The Israel Chemist and Engineer

28 The Israel Chemist and Chemical Engineer Issue 5 • November 2019 • Cheshvan 5780 History of Chemistry Articles Redcliffe Nathan Salaman (1874-1955) and the first potato plant with “genuine resistance” to late blight Bob Weintraub POB 5979, Beer Sheva, 8415901, Israel Abstract: “Modern potato breeding dated from the first decade of this century when Dr. R. N. Salaman discovered true blight immunity in a wild potato species fromMexico.” [J. G. Hawkes, Ann. Appl. Biol ., 1947, 34 , 622-631]. Working in England, Salaman discovered in 1908 what he called “genuine resistance” to late blight in the potato. He was the first to introduce the resistance of the wild potato Solanum demissum into the domesticated plant, the genes of which still dominate potato farming. It is now known that “true blight immunity” was not achieved. The potato blight pathogen, the oomycete Phytophthora infestans , eventually overcomes the immunity of the resistant plant. No potato has been bred that has durable resistance. The blight remains a great danger to food security. Discussed is the background to Salaman’s interest in the potato and his contribution to the study of blight resistance; history of blight and how it is spread; and the significance on blight research of the genome sequencing of P. infestans in 2009 and the potato in 2011. Discussed briefly is Salaman’s dedication to Jewish and Zionist affairs. Redcliffe Nathan Salaman Redcliffe Nathan Salaman (Figure 1) was born in London in 1874 into a Jewish family. He studied at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he took the Natural Science Tripos in Physiology, Zoology and Chemistry, and then entered the London Hospital where in 1900 he qualified in medicine. He continued post-graduate work at Würzburg and Berlin. Upon his return to London he was appointed Director of the Pathological Institute at the London Hospital and pathologist to the Zoological Gardens. In 1903, he developed tuberculosis and was forced to give up medicine. Following a lengthy recovery, he settled in the village of Barley in Hertfordshire, where he made his permanent home. Salaman, in explaining his start with plant genetics: “Not the least was the fact, that whilst in winter months I was sufficiently occupiedwith hunting, in the summer, having no liking for golf, tennis or cricket, I was at a loose end. To pursue my interests in pathology was no longer possible, and none of the hobbies of my boyhood any longer made an appeal. It was at this time that the study of heredity had taken on its new character and direction, following the rediscovery of Mendel’s epoch-making BobWeintraub was born in Brooklyn, New York, and made aliyah in 1975 to Beer Sheva, where he remained. He earned the PhD in Physical Chemistry from MIT and the Diploma in Library Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He held positions in scientific and technical librarianship in industry, hospital and academic institutions. He is now retired. He has an interest in the history of chemistry. Figure 1. Redcliffe N. Salaman. Assumed to be from the 1920s. Image reproduced by author from photograph in the Archives of The National Library of Israel. Original donated to the library in 1929 by Miss Helga Melchior.