Kylin, Johann Harald

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Kylin, Johann Harald

(b. Ornunga, Älvsborg, Sweden, 5 February 1879; d. Lund, Sweden, 19 December 1949)


Kylin was the oldest son of five sons and five daughters of Nils Henrik olsson, a farmer, and teh former Johanna Augusta Johannesdotter. Since Olsson is a very common name in Sweden, the children adopted teh name Kylin, derived from the name of the family farm (information supplied by Kylin’s son, Dr. Anders O. Kylin of the University of Stockholm). In 1898 Kylin graduated from the Gymnasium in Göteborg and entered the University of Uppsala, receiving the Ph.D. in 1907 under Frans Reinhold Kjellman. Following graduation Kylin remained as docent at Uppsala for thirteen years, during part of that time teaching in the Uppsala high school an the Uppsala teachers’ college. In 1912–1913 he was an investigator in the laboratory of Wilhelm Pfeiffer at Leipzig. In 1920 Kylin was appointed professor of botany (for anatomy and physiology) at the University of Lund, retiring in 1944. In 1924 he married Elsa Sofia Jacobowsky; they had a son and a daughter.

Kylin’s doctoral dissertation was a study of the marine flora of the west coast of Sweden. In later years he and his family usually spent the summer vacations at Kristine berg on that coast, conducting research in the marine biological laboratory located there. Over the years he and his students published many papers dealing with the taxonomy, morphology, biochemistry, ecology, and physiology of the algae of this coast. Three of his last four major works constituted a taxonomic revision of the red (1944), brown (1947), and green (1949) algae of the Swedish west coast. Kylin also contributed significantly to knowledge of the marine algae of various other parts of the wolrd; the west cost of Norway, which he visited in the summer of 1908 (1910); wiht Carl Skotts berg); the red algae in the vicinity of Friday Harbor, Washington (1925); the Delesseriaceae (red algae) of New Zealand (1929); the Delesseriaceae (red algae) of South Africa (1938) and of California (1941).

Kylin also studied the biochemistry and physiology of the algae. More than thirty papers dealing with pigments, storage products, pH relations, osmotic relations, and chemical composition of cell walls of various algae appeared between 1910 and 1946.

First and foremost a morphologist, Kylin, as he unraveled the step-by-step development of the vegetative and reproductive structures of the algae and details in their life histories, unearthed so much that was wrong with their taxonomy that he always was deeply involved in their systematic. In 1917 he revised the classification of the brown algae, basing his system largely on developmental and nuclear cycles. He recognized five orders. Utilizing the information that had accumulated since 1917, Kylin in 1933 erected a new system of classification of these algae, dividing them into three classes and twelve orders. This system has undergone much revision, but it served for a long time s a stimulating basis for research. In 1940 Kylin published an excellent taxonomic monograph on the brown algal order Chordariales.

Kylin’s greatest contributions to phycology came from his outstanding morphological ad systematic studies of the class Florideophycidae, which includes the bulk of the red algae. Between 1914 and 1923 he published several papers on the developmental morphology of six genera of red algae. In 1923 his very significant monogrpahy on the morphology of twenty-five genera appeared. In this paper Kylin elaborated upon an earlier system of classification of the Florideophycidae (Friedrich Schmitz. 1883) based upon embryological detail related to the mode of initiation and ontogeny of the generation developing from the fertilized egg, the carposporophyte.

Kylin saw that the ontogeny of practically every genus of red algae required a thorough investigation. To obtain properly preprd material he had to visit other parts of the world. In the summer of 1922, while his paper of 1923 was in press, he visited teh United States, collecting at the Monterey Peninsula, La Jolla, Friday Harbor, and Woods Hole. In the summer of 1923 he visited the Isle of Man and Plymouth. In 1924 he returned to Friday Harbor to teach the laboratory’s summer course on the algae. In teh summers of 1927 and 1928 he collected at Roscoff, Guéthary, and Banyuls in France; in 1929 he collected at Naples.

Using material obtained at these various places and that in the Agardh Herbarium at Lund, the most important algal herbarium in the world, Kylin published a series of very important morphological and taxonomic monographs, culminating in one on the order Gigartinales in 1932. Through these studies he immensely advanced knowledge of the morphology and interrelationships of members of the large adn diversified phylum Rhodophyta. Despite certain short comings, Kylin’s system as outlined in his monograph of 1932 on the Gigartinales presents a much more natural arrangement of these algae than had previously been possible. His last great work, Die Gattungen der Rhodophyceen, which appeared posthumously in 1956 (Kylin’s widow, herself a biologist, saw it through the press), is the standard reference on the red algae.

Kylin was elected to membership in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences andteh Royal Danish Academy of Sciences, and was corresponidng member of the Botanical Society of America and Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica. The Kungliga Fysiografiska Sällskapet of Lund awarded him its gold Linné Medal.


Kylin’s bibliography was compiled by John Tunneld, “Bibliografi över Harald Kylins Tryckta Skrifter,” in Botaniska Notiser (1950), 106–116. His writings include “Studien über die Entwicklungsgeschichte der Florideen,” in Kungliga Svenska vetenskapsakademiens handlingar, 63 , no. 11 (1923); “Entwicklungsgeschichtliche Florideenstudien,” in Acta Universitatis lundenis, n.s., Afd, 2, 24 , no. 4 (1928); “Über die Entwicklungsgeschichte der Florideen,” ibid., 26 , no. 6 (1936); “Die Florideenordnung Gigartinales,” ibid., 28 , no. 8 (1932); “Über die Entwicklungsgeschichte der Phaeophyceen,” ibid., 29 , no. 9 (1933); “Anatomie der Rhodophyceen,” in K. Linsbauer, Handbuch der Pflanzenanatomie, VI, pt. 2 (Berlin, 1937); and Die Gattungen der Rhodophyceen (Lund, 1956).

Obituaries are C. Skottsberg, in Bihang till Göteborgs K. Vetenkapsoch vitterhets-samhälles Handlingar, 69 (1950), 97–103; and Svante Suneson, in Botaniska Notiser (1950), 94–105.

George F. Papenfuss