Malpighi, Marcello 1628-1694

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Malpighi was an Italian physician, anatomist, physiologist, and a pioneer microscopist.

He graduated from medicine in 1653, became lecturer in 1656, and was appointed to the chair of Theoretical Medicine at the University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

He was also Professor at Messina, but eventually he returned to Bologna, his birthplace, where he spent the next 25 years. Finally he became private physician to Pope Innocent XII.

He was one of the first to utilize the microscope in the study of animals and vegetable structure. His discoveries were so important that he is considered the founder of microscopic anatomy. He applied himself to vegetable histology and became acquainted with spiral vessels of plants in 1662. His major contribution was Anatome Plantarum (1675). The important discovery that the layers of tissues in leaves and young shoots are continuous with those of the main stem was made by Malpighi. In wood he distinguished fibers, tubes and other constituents. He was first to understand food functions of leaves, observe stomata in leaves, and nodules on legume roots. He realized that the ovule developed into a seed and the carpel into a fruit or a portion thereof. "He arrived at the curious conclusion that the flower leaves were organs for the excretion of ignoble saps in preparation for the formation of the fruits." He also first observed circulation of the blood.