Bye, bye, Jean David

Jean R. David (1931-2021)

Jean David, research director at CNRS, passed away on June 19, 2021 at the age of 90.

Jean was one of the last active members of this generation of French researchers who made Drosophila melanogaster a model of evolutionary genetics in the 1970s / 1980s. He has thus contributed to providing a unique opportunity to extend the knowledge accumulated on the genetics and development of this species to the study of the mechanisms of adaptation and speciation.

Jean was recruited as an assistant teacher of zoology at the University of Lyon in the early 1950s. He did his PhD under the supervision of Victor Nigon on the effects of the nutrition on phenotypic variability in D. melanogaster. After a short postdoc in Scotland, Jean became professor of biology in Lyon, where he founded the “Experimental Entomology and Genetics” group (which then joined UMR5558). In the early 1970s, he collaborated with several researchers from Gif-sur-Yvette and the National Museum of Natural History of Paris on the study of the Afrotropical fauna of the Drosophilidae.

Following the death of Charles Bocquet in 1977, then director of the “Biology and Evolutionary Genetics” laboratory at Gif-sur-Yvette (now UMR9191), Jean resigned from the University of Lyon and became the directorship of this lab from 1978 to 1992. It was during this period that the laboratory became an internationally renowned “center of excellence” in Drosophila evolutionary genetics. Jean retired in 1996 but continued working in Gif-sur-Yvette as an emeritus researcher until in October 2020, when illness prevented him from pursuing his often-pioneering experiments on his large Drosophila collection.

Throughout his scientific career which lasted almost 70 years, Jean has published more than 400 articles mostly on Drosophila, dealing with subjects as diverse as systematics, biogeography, ecophysiology, morphometry, phenotypic plasticity, genetics, behavior, reproductive isolation and more recently evo-devo and genomics.

Jean has traveled the world to study Drosophila. He celebrated his 80th birthday aboard the Marion Dufresnes during an exploration of the Eparses Islands and he carried out his last field mission, at the age of 87, on the island of Grande Comore.

Unparalleled naturalist and entomologist, exceptional experimenter, rigorous and uncompromising scientist, Jean was able to transmit his enthusiasm to his students and supervised numerous theses. Several of his students have pursued successful scientific careers in France and abroad. He was also internationally recognized, whether in the United States or Europe, but also in Africa, India and Brazil, where he still visited regularly. His former students and colleagues, proud to have worked with him, will not forget what they owe him and deeply regret this great scientist who was their friend. They join together to express their deep sadness and to show their sympathy to his family and loved ones.

This entry was posted on 22 June 2021, in News.

Projet européen SafeAgroBee

The european project SafeAgroBee, founded by the research program H2020 PRIMA from European Union, and in which Fabrice Requier (Pôle Ecologie) is partner, just began. The project aims to preserve the resilience of agroecosystems in the climatic change thanks to an efficient pollinisation and sustainable bee-keeping.


This entry was posted on 2 June 2021, in News.

Insects and plants

Paul-André Calatayud (Pôle Ecologie) wrote an outreach article on plant-insect interaction in the Journal des anciens et amis du CNRS.

This entry was posted on 22 April 2021, in News.

The first version of the IPBES report in question

Gérard Arnold wrote an article published in Current Opinion in Insect Science that deals with the reviewing of the scientific litterature to write the first version of the IPBES report on pollinisators. This first version was partially corrected following independent peer review by external experts.

Abstract: To understand the real causes of disorders and abnormal mortalities of bees (honeybees and wild bees) in the world, the scientific method requires that each category of potential stressors be analyzed in a balanced manner. In this article, I show that the first version of the section dealing with the evaluation of the toxic effects of pesticides on bees, in the IPBES assessment report on pollinators and pollination, revealed an incomplete and biased literature review in many places, especially downplaying the risks that pesticides in general, and neonicotinoids in particular, pose for pollinating insects. Then, according to the rules of IPBES, an independent peer review by external experts of this first version allowed the published report to be more in line with the reality of scientific knowledge, which shows, for example, that sublethal effects of pesticide exposure can impair the ability of bees to provide pollination. However, some other key points remain unchanged in the published version.

This entry was posted on 29 March 2021, in News.