Matruchot, Louis

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(b. Verrey-sous-Salmasse, near Dijon, France, 14 January 1863; d. Paris, France, 5 July 1921)


Matruchot was admitted to the École Normale Supérieure in 1885. After passing the agrégation he become assistant science librarian there in 1888. In 1901 he was named lecturer in botany at the Sorbonne, where he also held a professorship in mycology. He was a member of the Société Biologique and of the Société Mycologique; as president of the latter he presented an honorary membership to George Safford Torrey of Harvard. His doctoral thesis, on the Mucedinaceae, was published in 1892.

Matruchot applied Pasteur’s techniques to the study of the effects of various culture media upon the polymorphism and reproduction of fungi. He was thereby able to demonstrate the facultative parasitism of Melanosporum parasitica; he also found three different forms of Bulgaria sarcoides— having solitary,coalescent, and sterile mycelia, respectively—and discovered the relationship between Cladobotryum ternatum and Graphium penicilloides. Having identified the perfect stage of Gilocadium, he was able to place it among the Perisporaceae; he identified Cunninghamella africana through the use of Pitocephalus,a parasite of the Mucoraceae family, as a biological indicator. Matruchot also showed symbiotic association between Gliocephalis hyalina and a bacterium and developed a cytological technique by which a Mortierella was inoculated with such pigmented organisms as Bacillus violaceus or fusaria; he was then able to demonstrate some constituents of the host in the extracted pigment.

Matruchot’s research on fungi pathogenic to men and animals opened a new field of medical investigation. He showed that certain infections that had previously been treated as lymphatic tuberculosis or syphilis were in fact fungal in nature. He found the yeast state of Sporotrichum gougeroti in an infected leg muscle; discovered the fungus that caused subcu-taneous nodules in a forearm (naming it Mastigocladium blochii); described a Trichophyton that is pathogenic in horses and that resembles Gymnoascaceae in its conidia, although it mimics Ctenomyces in its perfect stage; and finally discovered Microbacillus synovialis to be the cause of a condition similar to acute arthritis.

Matruchot also obtained the conidial stage of Cryptococcus farcimonosus in a medium containing sugar, which he kept at 25° C., and he was first to make pure cultures of Phytospora infestans, the agent of potato blight, for which he was awarded the Prix Bordin in 1911. He developed new techniques for the cultivation of mushrooms and truffles, and was honored by the Academy of Agriculture for having discovered the cause of the pollution of the Étang des Suisses in the park of Versailles.

In addition to his work as a mycologist, Matruchot wrote outlines in chemistry and physics for the use of his students, and contributed to archaeological research in his native province, the Côte-d’Or. He died of appendicitis at the age of fifty-eight.


I. Original Works. A complete bibliography of Matruchot’s scientific works is in Costantin (see below). His doctoral thesis was published as Recherches sur le dévelopment de quelques mucédinées (Paris, 1892); and two course outlines, Livret de chimie (Paris, 1897) and Livret de physique (Paris, 1897). His papers include “Sur la culture de quelques champignons Ascomycètes,” in Bulletin de la Société mycologique de France, 9 (1893),246–249; “Sur la structure du protoplasma fondamental dans une espèce de Mortierella,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’ Académie des sciences, 123 (1896),1321; “Gliocéphalis hyalina,” in Bulletin de la Société mycologique de France, 15 (1899), 254–262; “Sur la culture pure du Phytophora infestans, de Bary, agent de la maladie de la pomme de terre,” ibid., 16 (1900), 209–210, written with Marin Molliard; “Une mucorinée purement conidienne, Cunninghamella africana, étude éthologique et morphologique,” in Revue mycologique, 26 (1904), 83–85;“Sur un nouveau groupe de champignons pathogènes agents des Sporotrichoses,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’ Académie des sciences, 150 (1910), 543–545; “Études sur les mauvaises odeurs de la pièced’eau des Suisses à Versailles: nature, origine, causes et remèdes,” in Comptes rendus de la Société biologique de France, 75 (1913), 611, written with M. Desroche; “Un microbe nouveau, Mycobacillus synoviale causant chezl’homme une maladie évoluant comme le rhumatisme articulaire,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’ Académie des sciences, 164 (1917), 652–655; and “Surla forme conidienne du champignon agent de la lymphangite épizoolique,” in Bulletin de la Société mycologique de France, 38 , supp. (1921), written with Brocq-Rousseu.

II. Secondary Literature. M. J. Costantin’s obituary notice of Matruchot is in Bulletin de la Société mycologique de France, 38 (1922), 127–139. See also Paul Portier, “Louis Matruchot,” in Comptes rendus de la Société biologique de France, 85 (1921), 322–323.

Denise Madeleine Ploux, S.N.J.M.