Prof. K. Natarajan: 1942 - 2008
Dr. K. Natarajan, Professor (Retd.), Centre for Advanced studies in Botany, University of Madras and Past President of Mycological Society of India (MSI) suddenly passed away on 21th April, 2008 which incidentally happened to be his 65th birth day.
Dr. K. Natarajan was born at Kovilur (Thanjavur Distt.) in Tamilnadu on 21st April 1942 and had his schooling at Caddalore (T.N.) Later he joined SRKM Vivekananda College at Madras and obtained his B.Sc. Degree in Botany with First Class in 1962 and received Gold Medal from Madras University. After working as Demonstrator in the same College for a brief period he joined the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi and obtained his M.Sc. Degree in Mycology and Plant Pathology. Subsequently he joined the Centre for Advanced Studies in Botany, University of Madras in October 1965 to work for his Ph.D. Degree under the supervision of Prof. C.V. Subramanian and received the Degree in 1970.
Dr. K. Natarajan was appointed as Lecturer in CAS in Botany in July 1968 and was promoted as Reader in July 1976 and then as Professor in 1984, a position which he held until his retirement in June 2002. Subsequently the Madras University designated him as Emeritus Professor in CAS in Botany which he was holding until his death.
Although he started his research career initially working on the taxonomy of soil fungi, especially those present in the rhizosphere of crop plants, subsequently he switched over to studies on the taxonomy of Agaricales on the advice of his mentor, Prof. C.V. Subramanian, who provided him an opportunity to get training in the taxonomy of fleshy fungi with Dr. R.H. Peterson at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, USA under UNESCO exchange program during 1973-1974. After returning to India he initiated studies on Agaric flora of south India and described more than 300 species in a series of research papers which earned him international recognition. Several new taxa have been identified and described by him. He also published a monograph of South Indian Agaricales and another monograph on South Indian Aphyllophorales. Later he developed interest in Ectomycorrhizal association and carried out considerable amount of research work mainly on the factors affecting occurrance of basidomata ,effect of soil type and basidiospore inocula on the establishment of Ectomycorrhiza and the succession pattern of the occurrance of basidiomata. He guided the research work of many M.Sc., M. Phil and Ph.D. students.
Dr. K. Natarajan was internationally acclaimed Mycologist and well known for his contributions especially in the taxonomy of crop fungi. He visited many countries and delivered interested lectures and also participated in several International meetings such as International Mycological Congress, Asian Mycological Congress, IUFRO World Congress and many International Conferences on Mycorrhiza.
Dr. K. Natarajan received several honours. He was awarded UNESCO Fellowhip in 1973-1974 to work at the University of Tennssee Knoxville, USA, Fulbright Research Fellowhip during Sept. 1980-1981 Feb. to March at the Dept. of Forest and Wood Sciences. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. He was elected as executive committee member of International Mycological Association during 1994-95. He was invited to contribute a chapter in the document on Global Biodiversity Assessment organised by the United Nations Environment Programme in Paris, France during July 1994. He was also associated with the British Council Collaborative project with the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Penecoil Scotland and worked with Prof. F.T. Last and colleagues on Ectomycorrhiza. He also collaborated with University Clude Berrard Lyon, France in joint research Project. He successfully completed several research project funded by UGC, CSIR, DST, DBT and MOEF
Dr. Natarajan was associated with several Scientific Societies and his association with Mycological Society of India deserve special mention. He was founder member of MSI and served as Treasurer Secretary, President and look over as Editor of 'Kavaka' (the official publication of MSI) from the year 2000 onwords till his death. He devoted his time and energy for the growth of the Society and so as to bring the Journal on time. His untimely death in the year 2008 is great loss to the MSI.
Dr. Natarajan is survived by his wife, one son and daughter. He is always remembered for his pleasant temperament softspoken and helping nature. He trained several young research students from different parts of India on collection identification and description of fleshy fungi. He was deeply religious and an ardent devotee of Sri Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi (A.P.) The discipline of Mycology has lost as outstanding scientist in the death of Dr.K. Natarajan.
Centre for Advanced Study in Botany,
Guindy Campus,University of Madras,