Book Review (M. S. Swaminathan: Legend in Science and Beyond. P. C. Kesavan.)

TitleBook Review (M. S. Swaminathan: Legend in Science and Beyond. P. C. Kesavan.)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsRabbinge R
JournalCurrent Science
Start Page686
End page687
Date Published02/2018
Call NumberCS - 03

This biography of M. S. Swaminathan combines elements of a textbook based on his original contributions to cytogenetics of crops and their improvement using radiation and chemical mutagenesis, and his notable transition as a crusader of a hunger-free world. In the early chapters, it traces Swaminathan’s landing in Wageningen,the Netherlands in 1949 and the beginning of his tryst with cytogenetics of potato successively in Wageningen,Cambridge (England) and Wisconsin (USA). Potato was a tough and even unsuitable plant for in-depth cytogenetic research and improvement by breeding across the ploidal levels. The cultivated potato is a tetraploid (2n – 4x = 48), whereas species having the genes to shield against nematodes and frost are
diploids (2n = 2x = 24). The author, Kesavan clearly describes Swaminathan’s original research papers on these and also brings out the ideas and planning that preceded the execution in the laboratory and experimental field. Kesavan’s imaginary description of potato beckoning to Swaminathan to improve it genetically (p. 22) and the latter obliging, provides an unusual but emotional introduction to the bonds between the two.

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