History of Phycology - 17th Century

17th Century

In the 17th Century there was a great awakening of scientific interest all over Europe, and after the invention of the printing-press books on botany were published. Among them was the work of John Ray who wrote in 1660: Catalogus Plantarum circa Cantabrigiam., this initiated a new era in the study of Botany (Smith, 1975 p. 4). Ray "influenced both the theory and the practice of botany more decisively than any other single person in the latter half of the seventeenth century" (Morton, 1981).

However no real progress was made in the scientific study of algae until the invention of the microscope — in about 1600. It was Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723) who discovered bacteria and saw the cell structure of plants. His unsystematic glimpses of plant structure, reported to the Royal Society between 1678 and his death in 1723, produced no significant advances (Morton, 1981 p. 180).

As adventurers explored the world more species of all animals and plants were discovered, this demanded efforts to bring order out of this quickly accumulating knowledge.

The first Australian marine plant recorded in print was collected from Shark Bay on the Western Australian coast by William Dampier who described many new species of Australian wildlife in the 17th century (Huisman, 2000 p. 7).

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