Maige, Albert

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(b. Auxonne, France, 26 November 1872; d. Lille, France, 29 November 1943)


Professor at Algiers (1900–1910), Poitiers (1911–1919), and Lille (1920–1943), Maige was a corresponding member of the Institut de France. Having determined the general adaptive characteristics of creeping plants, he determined the tendencies of a tapering evolution toward the morphology and anatomy of either rhizomes or climbing plants for which direct light discourages creeping and diffused light encourages creeping.

Maige’s Flore forestière de l’s Algérie begins with general botanical concepts applied to phytogeography, to silviculture, and to the natural history of the woody plants of Algeria. It also includes four keys designed to assist in the identification of specimens: the reproductive organs and the characteristics of leafy branches, of the bare branches of trees with caducous leaves, and of the principal native woods.

Besides the description of new galls and various anomalies, Maige’s works in pathology and teratology include the study of the potato blight (brunissure), a physiological disorder caused by a progressive dehydration of the tissues, and, especially, the study of the disease of the cork oak known as “yellow spot,” which gives wine the taste of cork.

In physiology, Maige determined that the respiratory rate of the plant decreases regularly from the earliest stages to the time of blooming and that it falls steeply as the flower fades. The respiratory physiology of the flower thus resembles that of the leaf. He found that the influence of variations in turgescence on the respiration of the cell is shown by a notable simultaneous elevation of turgescence and respiration. The diminution of turgescence produces the same effects up to an optimum concentration of the cellular juice, beyond which there occurs a diminution of the respiratory coefficients. Sugar solutions of various concentrations affect the respiration, the turgescence, and the growth of the cell.

Maige conducted research in cytology, the study of pollinic karyokinesis among the Nymphaeaceae. In cytophysiology he used the cytophysiological method of unclear variations, which consists of depriving cells of nourishment, thus producing a decrease in unclear volume, and observing whether or not the nucleus grows under the influence of various substances. Combined with the analogous method of plastid variations, it can contribute valuable data concerning the nutritive values of the substances being examined. In particular, these methods enabled Maige to show that the formation of starch causes the different sugars to pass through the same stages as does the breakdown of starch but in the opposite direction—notably through stages of the dextrins and the erythrodextrins. The several enzymes involved in these processes can be arrested at certain stages.

The formation and the digestion of starch in the cells are two distinct phenomena produced by different enzymes, or at least by enzymes localized in different cellular regions. That which governs starch formation is localized, Maige proved, in the leucoplast; that which provokes amylolysis, in the cytoplasm. In addition, the former inhibits the latter during starch formation.


Maige’s works include “Recherches biologiques sur les plantes rampantes,” in Annales des sciences naturelles (Botanique) (1900), 249–364; Flore forestière de l’ Algérie (Paris, 1914); and various works on cytophysiology in Compts rendus hebdomadaries de l’Académie des sciences and Comptes rendus de la Société de biologie.

Maurice Hocquette