(b. Loches, France, 7 September 1866; d. Grenoble, France, 7 July 1948)
zoology, protistology, hydrobiology.
Léger, the son of Urbain-Louis Léger, a school-teacher, and Marie-Eugénie Tretois, spent his childhood in Touraine. At the Faculty of Science of Poitiers he studied natural science, for which he received his licence, and, under the direction of Aimé Schneider, prepared his thesis for the doctorat-ès-sciences on the subject of the Gregarines (parasitic protozoans of invertebrates). He defended the thesis, for which he himself engraved the plates, in Paris on 27 February 1892 under the chairmanship of G. Bonnier. He was then appointed préparateur and then chef de travaux of zoology in Marion’s laboratory at the Faculty of Sciences at Marseilles. He completed his medical studies and in 1895 defended his doctoral thesis in medicine on the histology of senile arteries before the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier.
In 1898 Léger was appointed deputy lecturer and in 1904 professor of zoology at the Faculty of Sciences in Grenoble. He was appointed to the same post at the School of Medicine in 1910 and remained in Grenoble until his death.
While at Marseilles, Léger was married to Juliette Baraton, by whom he had three sons: Jacques, Jean, and Louis. He was the recipient of many honors: twice laureate of the Institute (Prix Serres, 1920; Prix Petit d’Ormoy, 1933); corresponding member of the Academy of Agriculture (1927); corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences (1928); officer of the Legion of Honor (1929); member of the Masaryk Academy of Prague; and member of the Romanian Academy of Sciences.
Légers scientific output was considerable, comprising approximately 300 publications, which can be divided into two major groups: those on protistology and those on hydrobiology and pisciculture. In protistology Léger studied primarily parasitic species: Sporozoa (Gregarinida and Coccidia), Cnidosporidia, Flagellatae, and Ciliata. His researches on the Gregarinida, done for the most part in collaboration with O. Duboscq, yielded data concerning their morphology, cytology, sexuality, life cycle, and their effect on the host. The papers on Styhcephalus and Porospora have become classics. Furthermore, Léger was interested in the Trichomycetes, curious parasites of arthropods which possess plantlike characteristics.
Léger began his piscicultura! investigations in 1901. In 1909 he published a monograph on the fishes of Dauphiné, which was followed by numerous studies dealing with the physicochemical and biological factors of fresh waters and with the parasites and pathology of fishes. He also recommended attempts, which were successful, to introduce char in Alpine Lakes and rainbow trout in Madagascar.
At once a great researcher and a brilliant teacher, Léger was a cultivated artist—he was a watercolorist —and a direct and friendly man. His influence on his many pupils and his work in science give him a prominent place among French biologists of the first half of the twentieth century.
I. Original Works. Léger’s principal works are Recherches sur les Grégarines (Puitiers, 1892); “Recherches sur les artères séniles,” in Annates de la Faculté des sciences de Marseille (1895); “Nouvelles recherches sur les Polycystidées parasites des arthropodes terrestres, ”ibid.,6 (1896); “Essai sur la classification des Coccidies et description de quelques espèces nouvelles,” in Bulletin du Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Marseille,1 (1898), 71-123; “Les grégarines et l’épilhélium intestinal chez les Trachéales,” in Archives de parasitologic,6 (1902), 377-473, with O. Duboscq; “Recherches sur les Myriapodes de Corse et leurs parasites,” in Archives de zoologie expérimentale et générale (ser, 43), 1 (1903), 307-358, with Duboscq and H. Brolemann; “La reproduction sexuée chez les Styhr-hynchtis,” in Archie für Protistenkunde,3 (1904), 303-357; “Nouvelles recherches sur les Grégarines et l’épithélium intestinal des Trachéates,” ibid.,4 (1904), 335-383, with Duboscq; “Étude sur la sexualité des Grégarines,” ibid.,17 (1909), 19-134, with Duboscq; “Poissons et Pisciculture dans le Dauphiné,” in Travaux du Laboratoire de pisciculture de l’Université de Grenoble,2 (1909); “Les Porosporides et leur évolution,” in Travaux de la Station zoologique de Wimereux,9 (1925), 126-139, with Duboscq; and “Contribution á la connaissance des Eccrinides,” in Archives de zoologie expérimentale et générale,86 (1948), 29-144, with Duboscq and O. Tuzet.
II. Secondary Literature. M. CauIIery, “Notice nécrologique sur M. Louis-Urbain-Lugène Léger (1866-1948),” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences,277 (1948), 101-102; A. Dorier, “Discours prononcé aux obsèques du Professeur Léger,” in Travaux du Laboratoire d’hydrobiologie et de pisciculture de l’Université de Grenoble,9-11 (1948), 38-40; and Hommage à Louis Léger 1866-1948 (Grenoble, 1949).