Duboscq, Octave

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Duboscq, Octave

(b. Rouen, France, 1 October 1868; d. Nice, France, 18 February 1943)

protistology, cytology.

The son of a minor railroad employee who was crushed between two cars, Duboscq was orphaned at a very young age; his mother died of grief only a few months later. His aunt took him in and cared for him. He was a brilliant student at the lycée in Coutances. In 1886 he began to study medicine at Caen while preparing for his licence ès sciences naturelles, which he obtained in 1889. He went to Paris to complete his medical studies and in 1894 defended his doctoral thesis in medicine.

However, scientific research attracted Duboscq, and he abandoned his medical career. He was named préparateur at Caen, then chef de travaux at Grenoble. He defended his doctoral thesis in science in 1899 and became lecturer in zoology at Caen (1900), professor of zoology at Montpellier (1904) and then of marine biology at Paris, and director of the Arago Laboratory at Banyuls-sur-Mer (1923), where he remained until his retirement (1 October 1937). He then took up residence in Paris and he spent three months each winter in Nice with his brother, who died of a heart attack in 1942. Grief over this death and malnutrition as a result of the war led to his own death.

Louis Joyeux-Laffuie, professor of zoology at Caen, Georges Pruvot of Grenoble, Louis Léger of Grenoble, and Yves Delage of Paris profoundly influenced Duboscq’s work as well as his teaching. His collaboration with Léger lasted nearly a quarter of a century. A brilliant teacher, around 1912 Duboscq created a certificate in cytology and protistology and organized a teaching method that accorded a large place to practical topics.

Duboscq’s work, at once original and substantial, began with researches on the microanatomy of the arthropods (venom glands, nervous system of the chilopods, the digestive duct of the insects and crustaceans, spermatogenesis of the Sacculina). His essential work, however, represents an effort very important to the knowledge of several classes of the Protista. His investigations concerned the structure and cycle of the schizophytes and the intestinal and sanguicolous spirochetes of saltwater fishes. With Léger he studied the eccrinids, which are filamentous parasitic protophytes of the arthropods, and determined their development cycles; they also studied the sporozoans, establishing their general cycle and that of the gregarines in particular. They also discovered the cycle of the Porospora. They studied the coccidiomorphs and made a valuable contribution to the knowledge of the Pseudoklossia, of the Selenococcidium, and of the Aggregata. Moreover, they offered original ideas on the phylogeny and classification of the sporozoans.

Duboscq was also interested in the flagellates, especially in the sexual reproduction of the Peridinia and in the sexuality of the flagellate organisms that live in termites. The sporozoans represent the major work of his maturity. In his old age he devoted himself to the sponges. James Brontë Gatenby discovered the indirect fertilization of the sponges, and Duboscq and his student O. Tuzet specified the details and variations of the process.


Among Duboscq’s numerous writings are “Recherches sur les chilopodes,” his thesis for the doctorate in science, in Archives de zoologie expérimentale, 3rd ser, 7 (1899); “Les éléments sexuels et la fécondation chez Pterocephalus,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’ Académie des sciences, 134 (1902), 1148–1149; “Aggregata vagans, n. sp. grégarine gymnosporée parasite des pagures,” in Archives de zoologie expérimentale, n. et r., 4th ser., 1 (1903), 147–151; “Notes sur les infusoires endoparasites. II. Anoplophrya brasili. III. Opalina saturnalis” ibid., 2 (1904), 337–356; “Selenococcidium intermedium et la systématique des sporozoaires,” ibid, 5th ser, 5 (1910), 187–238; “Deux nouvelles espèces de grégarines appartenant au genre Porospora,” in Annales de l’Université de Grenoble, 23 (1911), 399–404; “Selysina perforans, description des stades connus de sporozoaire de Stolonica avec quelques remarques sur le pseudovitellus des statoblastes et sur les cellules géantes,” in Archives de zoologie expérimentale, 58 (1918), 1–53; “L’appareil parabasal des flagellés et sa signification,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences, 180 (1925), 477–480; “Les porosporides et leur évolution,” in Travaux de la Station zoologique de Wimereux, 9 (1925), 126–139; “L’évolution des Paramoebidium, nouveau genre d’eccrinides, parasites des larves aquatiques d’insectes,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences, 189 (1929), 75–77; “L’appareil parabasal et les constituants cytoplasmiques des zooflagellés,” ibid., 193 (1931), 604–605; “L’appareil parabasal des flagellés avec des remarques sur le trochosponge, l’appareil de Golgi, les mitochondries et le vacuome,” in Archives de zoologie expérimentale, 73 (1933), 381–621; “L’ovogenèse, la fécondation et les premiers stades du développement des éponges calcaires,” ibid., 79 (1937), 157–316; and “Recherches complémentaires sur l’ovogenèse, la fécondation et les premiers stades du développement des éponges calcaires,” ibid, 81 (1942), 395–466.

A biographical notice with a chronological list of Duboscq’s scientific works is P. P. Grassé, in Archives de zoologie expérimentale, 84 (1944), 1–46.

AndrÉe TÉtry

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