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Professor Stig Blixt deceased

Professor Stig Blixt, former Director at the Nordic Gene Bank passed away the 20th of June 2009, 79 years old. Stig Blixt was a somewhat unconventional person whose contribution to the world of pea genetics is substantial, especially considering his work on conservation of valuable genetic stocks. He collected thousands of peas from all over the world. He also contributed in creating the Nordic Gene Bank in 1979, where plants of interest for Nordic agriculture and horticulture are conserved.

Stig Blixt was somewhat of a wonder child within the pea genetic world. He left school at the age of 15. His work on pea genetics began in 1946 after he joined the staff of the Weibullsholm Plant Breeding Institute at Landskrona as a laboratory assistant. Although lacking formal university training, he flourished in the company of learned colleagues and his innate ability was soon revealed in a string of publications. Eventually Ã…ke Gustafsson, Professor in genetics at the University of Lund, suggested that it was time to prepare a doctoral dissertation. He was duly awarded an earned doctorate but not before special permission from His Majesty the King of Sweden to confer an earned doctorate on a candidate without a primary degree.

Stig Blixt realized early the importance of building and maintaining a base collection of pea germplasm and he must have been one of the early leaders in using the power of a computerised database on the traits and origin of line. The research on peas at Weibullsholm ended in 1986 and by this time Stig Blixt had ensured the pea collection had been safely transferred to the Nordic Gene Bank. In 1988 he was employed as Head of Material Departement at the Nordic Gene Bank and 1989 he became Head of our development projects. He started our engagements in SADC (Southern Africa Development Community). In 1990 he was appointed Director for the gene bank and retired from his post at the end of 1992. He continued as Senior Scientist until his age retirement in 1995.

He was well liked and known for his driving force and his unconventional leadership. His base collection of pea mutants is still here at the Nordic Genetic Resource Center.

Stig Blixt was elected in 1998 as the first Life Member of the Pisum Genetics Collection. This award recognized his immense contribution to the world of pea genetics, in particular, to the conservation of valuable genetic stock.

After his retirement in 1995, Stig Blixt had the opportunity to spend more time on his many interests, for example his beautiful garden, where he maintained a large collection of Swedish flora. He has kept the contact with us at the gene bank and we have had the pleasure of seeing him on various occasions. Our thoughts now go to his wife Birgitta and his daughters.