Reverend Johann Christian Breutel was a bishop of the Moravian Church and a plant collector specialising in Bryophytes (mosses, etc). He was ordained a deacon in 1819 and acquired a reputation as a male nurse and superintendent of the Moravian Church in Neuwied. He visited the mission stations of the church in the West Indies in 1840 and was appointed bishop in 1853. Throughout his career he collected mosses, algae and lichens on his missionary journeys.
In 1824 he published an article, 'Beitrag der Moosgattung Sphagnum' (Contribution to the moss genus Sphagnum) in the journal Flora. Other publications by him included Musci frondosi exsiccata, Centurien I-V (1822-1843) and, with H.G.L. Reichenbach, Flora germanica exsiccata, Sectio II, Cryptogamia, Centurien I-V (1832-1862).
Breutel visited the Cape from November 1853 to April 1854 and with Reverend C.R. Kölbing travelled to Genadendal, Riversdale, Brak River, Blanco, George, Pacaltsdorp, Lang Kloof, Avontuur, Gamtoos River, Clarkson, Uitenhage, Sundays River, Enon, Grahamstown, Fort Brown, Fort Beaufort, Shilo, King William's Town and Hankey. He made a collection of mosses, algae, and some flowering plants. His specimens ended up in various European herbaria. The lichens he collected at Genadendal were described by Stitzenberger in his Lichenaea in 1890. A genus of moss, Breutelia and several species were named in his honour.