Raymond Barratt, who died of cancer in December, 2002, was a prominent player in the early
development of fungal genetics. After early work with fungal plant pathogens at the Connecticut Agricultural
Experiment Station, he switched to Neurospora and became Ed Tatum's first graduate student at Yale. When
the Tatum lab moved to Stanford in 1948, Ray continued as a Research Fellow, conducting his own research,
supervising the laboratory, and becoming a teacher, helper, and friend to all the new students and postdocs.
During this period he took the initiative in assigning gene names and formulating rules of genetic
nomenclature for Neurospora (1) and in bringing together genetic and phenotypic information on all the
known genes into what might be called the first Neurospora compendium, which included the first
comprehensive maps (2). In 1954 he went to Dartmouth as a faculty member. He organized the Fungal
Genetics Stock Center (FGSC), gathering Neurospora mutant and wild-type strains, obtaining funding from
NSF, perfecting preservation methods, and periodically publishing stock lists in the Neurospora Newsletter
(now Fungal Genetics Newsletter). The Newsletter, produced and distributed by FGSC, was founded with
Ray's help in 1961 following the first Neurospora Information Conference (now Fungal Genetics
Conference), of which he was a co-organizer. He continued to direct the stock center for 25 years, during
which it was expanded to include other filamentous fungi. In 1970 he resigned as chair of the Biology
Department at Dartmouth and became Professor of Biology and Dean of Sciences at California State
University, Humboldt, taking the stock center with him.
Ray's research, though limited, contributed significantly to progress at the time. From studies of morphological mutants (3) and chemical mutagens, he turned to gene-enzyme relations. He was fascinated with mutants having complex metabolic effects; for example, phe-1 (4), ilv (5), and am (6). He was attracted to am mutants because their growth requirement could be satisfied by any of numerous amino acids, and his most extensive studies were of the am gene, which specifies NADP-specific glutamate dehydrogenase. (Studies of am were begun independently and carried to culmination by John Fincham and his colleagues.)
After his move to Dartmouth, Ray's experimental contributions were limited by other responsibilities. He was a superb organizer, and the choice to direct the stock center and to assume various academic obligations at the expense of his research was no doubt made deliberately. The stock center was set up and run fastidiously, with help of the curator, Bill Ogata, who followed Ray from Stanford to Dartmouth and later returned with him to California. FGSC proved to be a major asset, consolidating the fungal genetics community and setting an example of quality control, genetic sophistication, and economical management. Ray reminisced in 1985 that his contribution to the field of fungal genetics through the stock center may well have been equal to what he would have accomplished had he continued in full time research.
All those who work with Neurospora and other filamentous fungi owe Raymond Barratt a debt of gratitude, and those of us fortunate enough to have known him personally remember him with affection as a genial, enthusiastic, and always helpful colleague.
Dorothy Newmeyer and David Perkins
l. Barratt, R. W. 1954. Neurospora nomenclature in use at Stanford University. Microbial Genet. Bull. 9: 20-23.
2. Barratt, R. W., D. Newmeyer, D. D. Perkins, and L. Garnjobst. 1954. Map construction in Neurospora crassa. Advan. Genet. 6: 1-93.
3. Barratt, R. W., and L. Garnjobst. 1949. Genetics of a colonial microconidiating mutant strain of Neurospora crassa. Genetics 34: 351-369.
4. Barratt, R. W., R. C. Fuller, and S. W. Tanenbaum. 1956. Amino acid interrelationships in certain leucine- and aromatic-requiring strains of Neurospora crassa. J. Bacteriol. 71: 108-114.
5. Adelberg, E. A., C. A. Coughlin, and R. W. Barratt. 1955. The biosynthesis of isoleucine and valine. II. Independence of the biosynthetic pathways in Neurospora. J. Biol. Chem. 216: 425-430.
6. Barratt, R. W. 1961. Studies on gene-protein relations with glutamic dehydrogenase in Neurospora crassa. Genetics. 46: 849-850. -- 1962. Altered proteins produced by mutation at the amination (am) locus in Neurospora. Genetics. 47: 941-942. -- 1963. Effect of environmental conditions on the NADP-specific glutamic acid dehydrogenase in Neurospora crassa. J. Gen. Microbiol. 33: 33-42.
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