Franco Lamberti


Excerpted from an obituary by Nicola Greco, Aurelio Ciancio and Larry Duncan

Nematology Newsletter 50(4), Dec 2004

Franco Lamberti



Professor Franco Lamberti, eminent scientist and a founder of the discipline of nematology in Italy, died on 16 August 2004.

Lamberti's important scientific contributions and his passion for his work are well known. He is remembered for his devotion to his family, his longstanding academic and administrative leadership.

Franco Lamberti was born on 16 June 1937 in Merano, Italy, where he spent his boyhood. Lamberti graduated in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Bari, and completed his thesis in Plant Pathology in 1961.

His early research on diseases of grapevines, was guided by Prof. Antonio Ciccarone, the director of the Plant Pathology Institute of the University of Bari.  The discovery of grapevine fanleaf virus transmission in California, prompted Ciccarone to study Nematology.  Lamberti  who meanwhile  moved with his family to California in 1965.  They spent a year at UC Davis and two years at UC Riverside, where he obtained a MS degree. When Lamberti returned to Italy he proposed the establishment of the "Laboratorio (later Istituto) di Nematologia Agraria Applicata ai Vegetali." Lamberti directed the Institute from its inception until June 1999.

Lamberti undertook the task of developing plant nematology research in Italy, training  nematologists.  He promoted a wide range of plant nematology research lines, focusing his personal interest on longidorid nematodes, to include their systematics, transmission of plant viruses, and control.

Lamberti's organizational skills were unmatched.  He organized five NATO Advanced Study Institutes he organized: Nematode Vectors of Plant Viruses (1974), Root-Knot Nematode (Meloidogyne) species (1977), Durable Resistance in Crops (1981), Cyst Nematodes (1985), and Advances in Molecular Plant Nematology (1993). He also organized the15th International Symposium of the European Society of Nematologists, held in Bari in 1980 while he was ESN President (1978-1980).

Lamberti was co-founder of the Italian Society of Nematology (SIN), acting as President from 1981 to 1996. He was Secretary-Treasurer of the Mediterranean Phytopathological Union from 1983 to 1994 and from October 2002 until his passing.  He served on the organizing and scientific committee of several national and international meetings, and on the editorial boards of scientific journals. In the 1980s he served as a member of the CNR Agriculture Consulting Committee for two terms (eight years), promoting agricultural research in Italy.

Lamberti was very proud of the journal, Nematologia Mediterranea, which he founded in 1973 and for which he served as editor until 2003, when the 31st volume was published.

His teaching activities included nematology courses at the University of Bari (1968-1986), at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of CIHEAM, Valenzano (Bari), and at several foreign Universities. He supervised several theses in nematology and plant pathology. As a consultant of International Agencies, he traveled worldwide and contributed to the foundation of Nematology Research Institutes in Sri Lanka, Malta, Mauritius and Liberia.

During his career, Lamberti described 100 new nematode species of the genera Xiphinema, Longidorus, Paralongidorus and Trichodorus and several other nematode genera, focusing on their geographic distribution and interspecific variability. He published three atlases of the distribution of these genera in Italy, Malta and Bulgaria. He authored or co-authored 665 scientific and popular articles.

Lamberti was recognised as Fellow of the Society of Nematologists (1993) and received the ONTA Special Award from the Organization of Nematologists of Tropical America (2003).

Franco retired on July 1, 2004. 

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