S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Gonder, Dr Richard (protozoology)

Born: 6 July 1881, Friedberg, Hessen, Germany.
Died: 16 February 1917, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Richard Gonder, a German protozoologist, studied at the universities of Muenchen, Freiburg, and Giessen, qualifying at the latter as Doctor of Philosophy (Dr phil) in 1904. His publication Beitraege zur Kenntnis der Kernverhaltnisse bei den in Cephalopoden schmarotzenden Infusorien (Jena, 1905, 25p), dealing with the parasitic infusoria found in cephalopods, was based on his doctoral research. After qualifying he worked at the protozoological laboratory of the Kaiserliche Gesundheitsamtes in Berlin. From there he moved to the biological station at Rovigno, Austria (on the Adriatic coast, now Rovinj, Croatia) and then to the Institut fuer Schiffs- und Tropenhygiene in Hamburg. At the latter institute he conducted research on the taxonomic position of the Spirochaetes, an order of micro-organisms now classed with the bacteria, several of which cause diseases in humans and animals. This work was published as "Die Stellung der Spirochaeten unter den Protisten, zugleich Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Spirochaetepinnae" in the Centralblatt der Bakteriologie (1909).

In 1909 or early in 1910 Gonder was seconded to the Veterinary Bacteriological Laboratories of Transvaal (later the Veterinary Research Institute) at Onderstepoort, where he worked under Dr Arnold Theiler* on the life cycle of Theileria parva, a tick-borne protozoal parasite that had been shown by Theiler to be the causal organism of East Coast fever. His findings were published in a confusing number of overlapping papers and reports. The first of these, "On the development of Piroplasma in the different organs", appeared in the Annals of the Transvaal Museum (February 1910, Vol. 2(2), pp. 49-52). At the end of April 1910 he wrote a preliminary report in which he described the development of the organism, particularly in the lymphatic glands and spleen of cattle, before it appears in the animal's blood. This report was published in the Tieraertzliche Wochenscrift (July 1910). Further investigations were described in a more substantial report, in two parts: "The development of T. parva, the cause of East Coast fever in cattle in South Africa" (Part I: Report of the Government Veterinary Bacteriologist (Transvaal), 1909-1910, pp. 69-84; Part II: First Report of the Director of Veterinary Research, August 1911, pp. 223-229). In Part I he provided a short description of the organism's life cycle. In Part II he illustrated and described the forms of Teileria parva found in the blood corpuscles and their further development within the ticks that transmit them. Part I was also published in the Archiv fuer Protistenkunde (1910). He also presented a paper on "The life cycle of Theileria parva" before the Transvaal Biological Society in Pretoria on 25 October 1910. Papers with this title were published in the Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics (1910), the Zeitschrift fuer Infect. Parasit. Krankheiten und Hygiene der Haustiere (1910), and in the Annals of the Transvaal Museum (1911, Vol. 2(4), pp. 241-247). Gonder's work on this organism was probably the most important of his career, but he made significant contributions also to many other research areas in pathogenic protozoology.

In addition to the paper he presented at the meeting of the Transvaal Biological Society on 25 October 1910, he also read "A note on Lamblia sanguinis", which dealt with a new species of the intestinal protozoal parasites now included in the genus Giardia. This note was published in the Annals of the Transvaal Museum (January 1911, Vol. 2(4), pp. 248-250). At a subsequent meeting of the society, on 12 May 1912, he contributed a paper on "The life-cycle of Piroplasma parvum...", which was published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa (1910-1912, Vol. 2, pp. 63-68). His final paper published in South Africa, "On the transmission of Haemoproteus columbae", appeared in the Third and Fourth Reports of the Director of Veterinary Research (November 1915, pp. 625-). This organism is a parasite of the pigeon and is transmitted by a biting fly. On 17 February 1916 an unpublished paper by him on the life history of the same organism was read (presumably by someone else) before the Transvaal Biological Society.

It is not clear when Gonder left South Africa, but it may have been as early as 1911 and was almost certainly before the end of 1913. Not long after his return to Germany he was appointed at Georg Speyer-Haus, a chemotherapy research institute in Frankfurt am Main. He also qualified as a lecturer at the University of Frankfurt. From 1913 he was an active member of the Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gessellschaft and was elected its honorary secretary in 1916. He died in February 1917 of a disease contracted in the course of his work. During his short career he published around 40 or more scientific papers. The genus of protozoal parasites Gonderia was named after him by P.J. du Toit* in 1918, but was subsequently included in the genus Theileria.

List of sources:
Annals of the Transvaal Museum, 1910-1911, Vol. 2, papers by Gonder.

Bigalke, Dr Rudolph. Personal communication, 14 September 2010.

Curson, H.H. South African medical pioneers in veterinary science. South African Medical Journal, 25 November 1933, Vol. 7(22), pp. 745-751.

Gesamtverzeichnis des deutschsprachigen Schrifthums (GV), 1700-1910. Muenchen: K.G. Saur, 1979-1987.

Gonder, R. The development of T. parva, the cause of East Coast fever in cattle in South Africa. Part I: Report of the Government Veterinary Bacteriologist (Transvaal), 1909-1910, pp. 69-84; Part II: First Report of the Director of Veterinary Research, August 1911, pp. 223-229).

Google scholar. http://scholar.google.co.za Publications by R. Gonder.

Henning, M.W. Animal diseases in South Africa. Central News Agency, 1932.

Ritz, H. "Richard Gonder". Natur und Museum, 1919, Vol. 1-2, pp. 124-125.

Third and Fourth Reports of the Director of Veterinary Research, November 1915, paper by Gonder.

Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 1910-1912, Vol. 2, paper by Gonder.

The Transvaal Biological Society. South African Journal of Natural History, 1918, Vol. 1(1), pp. 24-32.

Compiled by: C. Plug