Obituary/In memoriam

Dr. René Bovey

Dr René Bovey passed away on 13 March 2018 in his 99th year. Our organisation lost its prominent founder member and a wise and rigorous first secretary. René Bovey got his degrees at the University of Lausanne and begun his scientific career in England before joining in 1951 the Federal Agricultural Research Station of Changins, Switzerland where he developed plant virology and electron microscopy. From 1959 until his retirement in 1984 he directed the Plant Protection department. He greatly contributed to the development of the Institute and regional plant protection services, besides being an associated professor at the University of Lausanne. He introduced schemes for the production of healthy plant propagation material with a particular focus on viral diseases of grapevine and fruit trees. He authored hundreds of scientific and popularized publications. His academically prized contributions to the editing of journals and books such as “La Défence des plantes cultivées” or “Virus and Virus-like Diseases of Grapevines” are only part of his legacy to the international scientific community and farmers. The unique bibliographic compilations remain invaluable for ICVG. His warm personality, classical education, open mind and deep interest in sciences made of René Bovey a most recognized and respected leader, colleague and friend.

Paul Gugerli, ex-Head of Plant Protection Department Agroscope Nyon Switzerland

Dr. Antoine Caudwell

Dr. Antoine Caudwell passed away in 2019 at the age of 91. After graduating from an agriculture school, he worked shortly on barley genetics at the French National Research Institute for Agriculture or Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in Versailles. Then he investigated the nature of flavescence dorée at INRA in Bordeaux in the late 1950s. This newly emerging disease was devasting vineyards of the Gascogne region in the southwest of France. Based on his research on the biology and epidemiology of flavescence dorée, A ntoine Caudwell earned a PhD from the University of Poitiers in 1965. Next, he integrated INRA at Colmar where he identified herbaceous hosts of the phytoplasma causing flavescence dorée -currently named Candidatus Phytoplasma vitis- and demonstrated its transmissibility to broad beans. In 1972, he transferred to INRA in Dijon where he established a phytoplasma laboratory. Antoine Caudwell pioneered research on grapevine phytoplasma diseases such as flavescence dorée and bois noir. His work primarily focused on phytoplasma-host and phytoplasma-leafhopper vector relationships and the development of serological diagnostic assays for phytoplasmas. He published many articles in scientific and trade journals. Antoine Caudwell retired from INRA in 1993. He attended numerous ICVG meetings, contributed several literature reports on graft-transmissible agents of grapevines that were appreciated by ICVG members and served on the ICVG Steering Committee for many years.

William Boright Hewitt

William "Bill" Hewitt was born July 17, 1908 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and died in Sequim, Washington, on July 3, 1998.

Hewitt had a life-long association with the University of California at Davis. He finished his BS in pomology (1933), his MS in pomology (1934) and his PhD in plant pathology (1936). In 1937, Bill joined the Department of Plant Pathology at Davis. He served the department as chairman from 1968 to 1969. In 1969 he was appointed director of the San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Parlier. He held this position until his retirement in 1974. During his tenure at Davis, he contributed greatly to the strength and international reputation of his department.

Professor Hewitt had an active research program and worked with a spectrum of pathogens and hosts. He published over 100 papers on his own research. His primary interest was in the etiology, epidemiology and control of diseases of the grapevine. He is known especially for the separation and identification of several viruses in grapevines and is called the father of modern grapevine virology. He was instrumental in establishing the International Council for Study of Viruses and Virus Diseases of the Grapevine and he served as its president for six years. He was deeply concerned with control of these viruses and developed protocols for detecting virus-infected plants as well as methods for eradicating viruses from these plants by thermotherapy. These virus-free plants were made available to the industry through what is now the Foundation Plant Services. He also directed a similar program by which foreign vines could be imported under federal quarantine. These activities attracted numerous visitors as well as providing many opportunities for him to travel and advise on the establishment of similar clean stock programs around the world. His curiosity about soil-borne grapevine viruses led to the identification of nematodes as vectors of plant viruses with colleagues Raski and Goheen in 1958. This research earned them the Ruth Allen Award from the American Phytopathological Society. Bill was the recipient of a number recognitions and awards throughout his career. He also served in leadership positions in the American Phytopathological Society and as a member of numerous committees at the departmental, college and campus level.

Professor Hewitt taught undergraduate and graduate classes between 1949 and 1968 and served the department as graduate advisor from 1960 to 1968. He demonstrated his faith in his department and in graduate education by establishing the W. B. Hewitt scholarship for graduate students in the Department of Plant Pathology upon his death.

Adapted from the obituary written by Robert N. Campbell, Edward E. Butler, James E. DeVay.

Giovanni Paolo Martelli

Giovanni Paolo Martelli, President of the International Council for the Study of Viruses and Virus Diseases of the Grapevine (ICVG) from 1987 to 2018, passed away on January 8, 2020 at the age of 84. He dedicated his long-lasting academic and scientific career to the advancement of knowledge, contributing outstanding achievements in plant virology, with a relentless commitment and generous vision.

In 1956, he graduated cum laude in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Bari, where he spent most of his career. At Bari, he established a plant virology laboratory which soon became one of the leading units in Italy and remains internationally renowned to this day. Martelli investigated viruses and virus diseases of Mediterranean crops and was a recognized authority on viruses and virus diseases of grapevines. He co-authored the description of more than 50 new virus species, genera and families, and characterized many other viruses. In the late 1980s, Martelli set up a biotechnological research unit for plant virus diagnostics based on the use of recombinant DNA and monoclonal antibodies. He also established a unit for the sanitation of grapevines and fruit trees, and the production of virus disease-free material, and was active in the planning and implementation of plant certification programs. Martelli was an active member of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) since 1978. In the recent extension of the virus taxonomy structure to 15 ranks, the name "Martellivirales" was ratified by ICTV to acknowledge Professor Martelli's outstanding contribution to plant virology and virus taxonomy. Professor Martelli published more than 300 research papers in international refereed journals and many additional written contributions for a total over 600 scripts, including six books. He served on many esteemed virology committees and was awarded numerous prizes, among which the "F. Maseri-Florio World Prize for Distinguished Research in Agriculture." Professor Martelli served as an associate editor of Phytopathology, European Journal of Plant Pathology and Vitis. Since 2002, he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Plant Pathology.

Giovanni Paolo Martelli will be always remembered as an excellent scientist and a pioneer with a broad, far-sighted vision. He was an exceptional mentor and a guide for his coworkers, always open to challenging discussions, and invariably listening to different opinions and to sharing of ideas and thoughts for maintaining his scientific curiosity. He passionately thought, practiced and defended rigorous, honest and high-quality research. His passing is a great loss for those who had the honor and privilege of working with him and benefited from his constant support and help.

Adapted from Luisa Rubino's obituary for Giovanni Martelli published in the Journal of Plant Pathology.

Günther Stellmach

Dr. Günther Stellmach passed away on 7 September 2014 at the age of 89. After attending an agricultural school, he studied Agricultural Sciences at Göttingen University where he received a PhD in plant pathology in 1956. His first position at the State Plant Protection Service led him to plant virology. His work focused on virus diagnosis in beet and potato at State and Federal institutions until he joined the Institute for Plant Protection in Viticulture at the former BBA (Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry) in 1962. At this institute, he established a working group on grapevine viruses. After 28 years of service, he retired as a deputy head of the institute in 1989.

Günther Stellmach’s work focused on graft-transmissible diseases of the grapevine. He contributed important knowledge of grapevine diseases caused by nepoviruses. Trained as a farmer and as a scientist, he was genuinely interested in the significance of his work for practical viticulture. His main concern was the development of practical diagnostic and therapeutic tools for improving the phytosanitary quality of grapevine planting material. The scientific work of Günther Stellmach led to numerous publications and was much appreciated by his colleagues. As a dedicated scientist he continued working on grape diseases and pathogens long after his retirement.

Günther Stellmach was one of the early pioneers of ICVG. He participated and contributed to many meetings starting in 1964, and served in the Steering Committee for many years. ICVG will miss one of its honorary steering committee member.

Dr. Michael Maixner, Siebeldingen, Germany

André Vuittenez

Mr André Vuittenez passed away on 23 November 2010 at the age of 87 in Colmar, France, while working until his last day according to his wife Claudine Vuittenez. He studied natural sciences with a special emphasis on mycology and plant virology. In 1946 he began a scientific career at the central research station of INRA (National institute for agronomic research) in Versailles, France and was charged in 1949 with the mission to develop a division of plant pathology at INRA in Colmar to support agriculture in Alsace. He became director of research and managed the plant pathology station for 35 years until his retirement in 1984.

Eclectic and passionate researcher, André Vuittenez studied several plant diseases. His efforts primarily focused on grapevine and sugar beet diseases. His contributions to grapevine fanleaf disease assured him rapidly of an international reputation. André Vuittenez was also instrumental in the development of the sanitary selection of grapevine in France. By applying heat therapy, he obtained clean vines of several selections, including the heritage cultivar Klevener of Heiligenstein. Viticulturists owe a lot to André Vuittenez.

André Vuittenez’ contributions to sugar beet diseases are also important. Work in sugar beet fields in Erstein allowed him to identify rhizomania and to develop resistant beet cultivars. In 1980 the Academy of Agriculture honored André Vuittenez by awarding him the price Dufrénoy together with his colleagues Alain Trouvelot and Charles Putz. André Vuittenez published numerous articles and co-authored the book “Virus and Virus-like Diseases of Grapevine” in 1980. When he retired in 1984, he left modern tools for the investigation of plant viruses.

In 1962 André Vuittenez participated in the foundation of ICVG. He served many years as a member of the steering committee. ICVG will not only miss a very talented and active scientist but also one of its founders and honorary steering committee members.

Dr. Etienne Herrbach, INRA, Colmar, France

Contact: Dr. Deborah Golino | Foundation Plant Services | University of California, Davis
1 Shields Avenue, Davis CA 95616 | Email: