Dedication: Henry M. Munger

Molly Kyle Jahn

Department of Plant Breeding and Biometry, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Dermot Coyne

Department of Horticulture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

Additional index words. cucumber, Cucurbita, melon, carrot, tomato, vegetable, breeding, genetics, cytoplasmic male-sterility, resistance, backcross, variety development, human nutrition, teaching, education

Abstract. Research scientist, plant breeder, and educator describe in a limited way Henry M. Munger. Few scientists have impacted their field of endeavor to the extent that Munger has impacted the entire field of vegetable research and breeding, and training of scientists. Munger's PhD research under R.A. Emerson pioneered the production and use of F1 hybrid melon seed, and the variety he helped to develop and release in 1944, 'Iroquois', is still found in seed catalogs. Munger's breeding activities in 60+ years at Cornell University have resulted in the release of more than 70 vegetable varieties and breeding lines that have had an enormous impact on the vegetable seed industry and on vegetable production. His discovery of cytoplasmic male sterility in carrot set the stage for the F1 hybrid carrot seed industry, and his numerous improved and multiple disease-resistant slicing cucumber varieties are in use by cucumber breeders worldwide. He continues to interact with scientists and students more than 20 years after retiring from Cornell University.

These days, among many other activities, Henry Munger is looking for a good student to follow up on a project he's begun to document some remarkable differences in the rate of biomass production in plants. Once again, his insight and interest in understanding the biology that underpins success in breeding is evident. He has long argued that the definition of yield should include a time element, and he has identified a number of vegetable species that can produce high yields of nutritious, highly caloric biomass in relatively short times. He has advocated the use of vegetables such as beets, where the entire plant can be consumed, and he has been concerned with human nutrition, and breeding for improved nutrient content. Finally, he has articulated the link between agricultural productivity and population and has presented forceful and disturbing seminars on this topic. Although he has been nominally retired for nearly 20 years, he has continued to develop and advance these concepts strongly, and he has continued his plant breeding programs and training activities related to them on a nearly full-time basis.


Munger was born in Iowa where his father was teaching farm management at Iowa State, but due to the death of his grandfather in a farm accident, soon moved to his family's farm in Western New York where he acquired his interest and first experiences in agriculture. New York is where he has been based almost without exception for the last nearly eighty years. While growing up, he developed a basic common-sense approach to problemsolving, and became well-acquainted with the beneficial impact that technical developments can have in agriculture for both producers and consumers. Munger's career spans enormous changes in modes of agricultural production, handling and marketing, prompted in part by significant innovations resulting from his own breeding activities. Although he is best recognized for his contributions as a plant breeder working towards improved disease resistance and quality, he has also made significant contributions in other areas of research. These include pioneering research with his graduate students on genetic variation in

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mineral element utilization in cucumber, celery and beets; abiotic stress tolerance, e.g., cold tolerance for fruit set in tomato; genetic modification of plant habit in Cucurbita; fruit firmness and crack resistance in tomato; pectin content of muskmelon; the use of wide crosses to transfer important traits; and investigations on male sterility and other mechanisms for facilitating the production of F1 hybrid seed for carrot, squash, cucumber onion, and spinach. His keen eye and innate sense, coupled with his vast experience, knowledge and love of teaching have made a trip to the field or greenhouse with him an unforgettable experience for the hundreds of students and colleagues whom he has influenced.

Munger's accomplishments throughout his long career clearly have had a major impact on the advancement of horticultural science in its broadest sense. He has received numerous major awards including the World Seed Prize (1994), the ASHS Luther Burbank Award (1996), the AHS Childers Award for Graduate Teaching (1986), the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders Award (1972), Vegetable Man of the Year (1962). He was the first living person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the ASHS in 1995. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska in 1997, and in 1998, received Cornell University's Alumni Achievement Award. He is regarded as one of the most eminent vegetable breeders of this century for the tremendous impact he has had on agriculture and on intellectual and technical developments in plant breeding. His students can be found around the world in many prominent positions of responsibility.


Munger's PhD research under R.A. Emerson (he was Emerson's last student, but the first to major in plant breeding rather than genetics), pioneered the production and use of hybrid melon seed, and the variety he helped to develop, 'Iroquois', is still found in catalogs. He is fond of telling that this opportunity for his training in Plant Breeding resulted from the persistence of Ralph Palmer, an extension agent from the western part of the state, who recognized the need for Fusarium resistance in melons. Palmer had

brought the problem to Emerson who identified a source of resistance and made initial crosses, but did not have funds for selection in fields where the disease was present. Palmer was frustrated to see the work stop at this point, so he came to Ithaca to see Dean Ladd who said no funds were available. Palmer, who was determined, then announced that he would wait in the Dean's reception area until funds could be found. "Well, Ralph, if it's that serious, maybe we can use part of a new appropriation for nonpoisonous sprays that is not yet being fully utilized," said the Dean. That provided an assistantship for Munger that culminated in the release of 'Iroquois'. To this day, Munger keeps in personal touch with the produce buyers of our local supermarkets, extension agents, and growers from our farmers' market to keep his finger on the pulse of attitudes, needs and desires of growers, buyers, and consumers.

Munger has said that while he cannot imagine a career that could have been any more satisfying than his as a vegetable breeder, there were a number of chance events such as the opportunity created just at the right time by Palmer's persistence. One of the longest lasting professional and personal relationships Munger has had has been with O.H. Pearson. While Munger was taking C.H. Myer's course in plant breeding in the spring of 1935, Myers received a letter from Pearson inquiring if any students were interested in a summer job at the breeding station of the Eastern States Farmers' Exchange near Springfield, Mass. It just so happened that Munger's family was moving at the end of that semester to Springfield, due to an opportunity for Munger's father. Despite the fact that among other duties, he was responsible for regular trips to the butcher shop for scraps to raise the flies for onion pollinations, stimulating conversations with Pearson and the example of Pearson's accomplishments provided a significant motivation for Munger to pursue advanced studies.

Plant breeding contributions

Munger's breeding activities in the ensuing 60+ years at Cornell have resulted in the release of more than 70 vegetable varieties and breeding lines that have had an enormous impact on the

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vegetable seed industry and on vegetable production. Within the last five years, a seedsman estimated that at least 95% of the germplasm of slicing cucumbers produced in North America originated at Cornell. He will shortly release two capstone varieties, Poinsett 97 and Marketmore 97, carrying 12 and 10 disease resistances, respectively. Munger not only transferred these resistances, but located several, often working closely with his friend and collaborator, Rosario Provvidenti. This team has identified and transferred virus resistances that have changed the industry in cucumbers, melons and squash. In some cases, although the trait was already known, Munger dared to go where no one else would.

A case in point is the high level of resistance to cucumber mosaic virus found in the cucumber introduction 'Chinese Long'. The availability of this resistance, actually the capacity to remain symptomless upon infection, was known well before Munger began his work, but the initial varieties bred from it were not fully horticulturally satisfactory. Having become convinced as a graduate student of the power of the backcross method to reassemble the many traits needed for commercial success, he applied it to the cucumbers. 'York State Pickling' and 'Wisconsin SMR18', which acquired its CMV resistance from the same series of backcrosses, became successful because of their fruit type even though not retaining all the genes needed for highest levels of resistance. This was remedied in the 'Tablegreen' and 'Marketmore' series of slicing types, which have high levels of resistance that have held up to this day, and horticultural features fully equal to the best susceptible slicers. These varieties revolutionized cucumber production by eliminating the need for a series of plantings, each of which would be picked only a few times before the vines were killed by a virus.

This work also revealed the potential of the backcross method to transfer complex traits, and prompted Munger to develop the concept of rapid backcrossing. He conducted a standard backcross program, selecting plants in the heterozygous condition that were only marginally better than the susceptible parent until he had recovered type. Subsequent selection in selfed progenies

gave lines with higher CMV resistance in less time than had been needed for the earlier procedure of selfing and selection between backcrosses. Poinsett 76, a variety that has had an enormous impact, originated in this way.

Another example of the impact his work has had is in carrots. While picking blueberries with his young daughter in his mother-in-law's backyard on Cape Cod, he happened to notice a Queen Anne's Lace plant that carried flowers with an unusual appearance: the anthers were replaced by petals. He had, by chance, identified a petaloid male sterile. He tagged the plant and collected the seed head in the fall. Crosses were made with cultivated carrots the next year and the inheritance and nature of the cytoplasmic male sterility were the subject of thesis studies by David Thompson, who later became President of the Ferry Morse Seed Co., and by Hamdy Eisa who has been prominent at the World Bank. Several other Cornell researchers were involved in the transfer of this male sterility to cultivated carrots, and the results revolutionized carrot breeding. Carrots are now almost exclusively sold as F1 hybrids produced using this system because of the gains in crop quality and uniformity. Building upon this advance, the baby cut carrot has become a common snack served instead of much less nutritious alternatives. This new product has not replaced traditional forms of carrots, but represents added usage, and all are higher in carotene than the former nonhybrid carrots with the result that consumers now get a significant proportion of their vitamin A requirement from carrots. In addition to these contributions, Munger has worked in a tremendous array of crops (summer and winter squashthree sp., melon, slicing and pickling cucumber, onion, tomato, celery, bean, spinach, beets, peas, Amaranthus for use as a leafy green and cabbage).

Other contributions

Munger has served in many roles during his career: faculty member, head of the Department of Vegetable Crops from 1951­66, president of ASHS, and editor for that society. He was a delegate on the first plant science mission to China in 1974, and has traveled and worked all over the world. He

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has served as major professor for 69 graduate students, 42 PhD and 18 MS, and served on the graduate thesis committee of at least 30 more with minor concentrations in plant breeding or vegetable crops.

More important than these impressive numbers, however, is the fine quality of training provided by Munger. He takes a strong personal interest in each student, guiding them through their coursework and their thesis development. Munger used a hands-on approach to training graduate students, making them part of an ongoing successful breeding program, yet individually responsible for the development and execution of their thesis projects. As their work advanced, students were expected to report their work to visiting seedsmen and at meetings. To this day, students who now do laboratory rotations have elected to do a rotation with him, despite the fact that he's been nominally retired since 1982. He remains available for students to discuss concepts and strategies in plant breeding, and he is always willing to take students to the field to show them the latest things about which he is excited. Henry and Norma Munger took special care to ensure that all the students they encountered were well settled and well cared for in Ithaca, and many of those relationships have endured through the decades.

In the classroom, his teaching provided strong instruction to graduate students in plant breeding and vegetable crops for over 50 years, and he still offers seminars and regular guest lectures in our courses. He developed and taught the core graduate plant breeding methods course, teaching every year from 1942­52, and thereafter alternating with Royse Murphy until 1979. Many of the 800 to 900 students who took this course have gone on to distinguished careers in this area, and his colleagues who travel, especially those who travel internationally, regularly hear of the impact this experience had on their professional development.

Munger has been involved with a number of international programs concerning vegetable improvement. He served as a consultant to the food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and to the Crop Sections of the Ministry of Agriculture of Egypt during his 1962­63 sabbatical leave in that country. He was a visiting

professor of Vegetable Crops at the University of the Philippines in 1969­70 as a part of the Cornell Education Program, and served as a member of the FAP­TAC Mission to appraise vegetable research in the tropics. From January 1978 to March 1980 he made a number of trips to Ecuador as a consultant for the National Institute of Agricultural Research in Ecuador. During his 1980 sabbatical he worked in Australia, the Far East, and the Middle East. In February 1983, he served as a consultant for USAID in India at the University of Bangalore, and in 1993 he served again for this agency in Egypt. His experience and his concerns are global, but his perspective is always to keep his eye on the simplest and most effective solutions to problems of nutrition and food production, some of which may not involve technical solutions. Largely due to his initiative and stature, the Cornell Vegetable Breeding Institute was founded in 1988. Thereafter, the inaugural symposium "Resistance to Viral Diseases of Vegetables: Genetics and Breeding" was organized in his honor with >115 attendees from around the world. The results of this symposium were reworked to form the basis of a volume published under the same title by Timber Press in 1993. His career clearly illustrates one his favorite concepts, namely that through breeding we come to understand the biology upon which our success depends.

Munger's career has had a remarkable impact on our present position in plant breeding, but it also sets strong examples for the future. It highlights the importance of common sense and persistence while pursuing visionary directions. It highlights the importance of efforts that integrate fundamental pursuits with applied achievement. It highlights the importance of communication in setting breeding goals, and transmitting breeding results, and the importance of maintaining a focus on impact. In this day and age where academic careers sometimes appear to be measured simply by numbers of papers, numbers of students, and numbers of dollars, it is critical to remember that in applied agricultural research, impact is really the key word. Vegetable breeding is Munger's passion; the impact his career has had, and the joy this pursuit brings him has been an inspiration for several academic generations.

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ence (presidential address). Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 91:899­904.

Eisa, H.M. and H.M. Munger. 1968. Male sterility in Cucurbita pepo. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 92:473­479.

Padda, E.S. and H.M. Munger. 1969. Photoperiod, temperature and genotype interactions affecting time of flowering in beans, Phaseolus vulgaris L. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 94:157­160.

Emery, G.C. and H.M. Munger. 1970. Effects of inherited differences in growth habit on fruit size and soluble solids in tomato. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 95:410­412.

Emery, G.C. and H.M. Munger. 1970. Alteration of growth and flowering in tomatoes by the jointless genotype. J. Hered. 61:51­53.

Emery, G.C. and H.M. Munger. 1970. Effects of inherited differences in growth habit on pattern of harvest in tomato. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 95:407­410.

Tehrani, G., H.M. Munger, R.W. Robinson, and S. Shannon. 1971. Inheritance and physiology of response to low boron in red beet (Beta vulgaris L.). J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 96:226­230.

Munger, H.M. 1971. Synergism of mosaic resistance and powdery mildew resistance in muskmelon. HortScience 6:277 (abstr.).

Wallace, D.H., J.L. Ozbun, and H.M. Munger. 1972. Physiological genetics of crop yield. Adv. Agron. 24:97­146.

Munger, H.M. 1973. Better vegetable varieties for the home garden. Proc. 5th Natl. Bedding Plant Conf. 1972:29­36.

Robinson, R.W., H.M. Munger, T.W. Whitaker, and G.W. Bohn. 1976. Genes of the Cucurbitaceae. HortScience 11:554­568.

Contin, M. and H.M. Munger. 1977. Inheritance of powdery mildew resistance in interspecific crosses with Cucurbita martinezii. HortScience 12:29 (abstr.).

Provvidenti, R., R.W. Robinson, and H.M. Munger. 1978. Resistance in feral species to six viruses infecting Cucurbita. Plant Dis. Rptr. 62:326­329.

Munger, H.M. 1979. The potential of breeding fruits and vegetables for human nutrition. HortScience 14:247­250.

Brecht, P.E., L. Keng, H.M. Munger, and C. Bisogni. 1975. Effect of fruit portion, stage of ripeness and growth habit on chemical composition of fresh tomatoes. J. Food Sci. 41:945­948.

Munger, H.M. 1979. What should be the objectives of food crop breeding programs? In: a Series of Papers on World Food Issues, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.

Munger, H.M., S. Omara, and A. Morales. 1979. Partially dominant genes for resistance to powdery mildew in cucumber. HortScience 14:447 (abstr.).

Munger, H.M. 1979. The influence of temperature on powdery mildew resistance in cucumber. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 2:9­10.

Munger, H.M., A. Morales, and S. Omara. 1979. Dominant genes for resistance to powdery mildew in cucumber. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 2:10.

Publications of Henry M. Munger

Munger, H.M. 1942. The possible utilization of first generation muskmelon hybrids and an improved method of hybridization. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 40:405­410.

Munger, H.M. 1944. Iroquois muskmelon is resistant to fusarium wilt. Farm Res. 10(2):20.

Dolan, D.D. and H.M. Munger. 1944. Seek tough rind for Honey Cream melon. Farm Res. 10(4):4­5.

Munger, H.M. 1947. Hybrid tomatoes give high early yields, better fruits. Farm Res. 13(3):1.

Munger, H.M. 1950. Two new mosaic-resistant cucumbers. Farm Res. 16(4):13.

Attia, M.A. and H.M. Munger 1950. Self-incompatibility and the production of hybrid cabbage seed. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 56:363­368.

Barham, W.S. and H.M. Munger. 1950. The stability of male sterility in onions. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 56:401­409.

Munger, H.M. and A.G. Newhall. 1952. Emerson PascalA blight-resistant celery. Farm Res. 18(1):11.

Pope, D.T., H.M. Munger, and J. Carew. 1952. Chlorosis in celeryAn inherited magnesium deficiency. Farm Res. 18(2):10.

Munger, H.M. and A.G. Newhall. 1953. Breeding for disease resistance in celery and cucurbits. Phytopathology 43:254­259.

Pope, D.T. and H.M. Munger. 1953. Heredity and nutrition in relation to magnesium deficiency chlorosis in celery. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 61:472­480.

Pope, D.T. and H.M. Munger. 1953. The inheritance of susceptibility to boron deficiency in celery. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 61:481­486.

Munger, H.M. 1954. Delicious 51, an early fusarium-resistant muskmelon. Farm Res. 20(1):8.

Munger, H.M. and Y.L. York. 1954. The Valnorth tomato. Farm Res. 20(1):9.

Munger, H.M. and J.J. Natti. 1955. Empire DanishA new yellows-resistant cabbage. Farm Res. 21(1):10.

Munger, H.M., H.A. Jones, and E.W. Davis. 1959. Two new onion hybridsPremier and Empire. Farm Res. (25(4):14.

Munger, H.M. 1961. TablegreenA new slicing cucumber. Farm Res. 27(4):6­7.

Denna, D.W. and H.M. Munger. 1963. Morphology of the bush and vine habits and the allelism of the bush genes in Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita pepo squash. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 82:370­377.

Wallace, D.H. and H.M. Munger. 1965. Studies of the physiological basis for yield differences. I. Growth analysis of six dry bean varieties. Crop Sci. 5:343­348.

Wallace, D.H. and H.M. Munger. 1966. Studies of the physiological basis for yield differences. II. Variations in dry matter distribution among aerial organs for several dry bean varieties. Crop Sci. 6:503­507.

Munger, H.M. 1967. Interactions and horticultural sci

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Munger, H.M. 1980. Reflections on forty years of cucumber breeding. Proc. Pickling Cucumber Improv. Comm. Meeting, October 1980. Pickle Packers Intl., St. Charles, Ill.

El Jack, A. and H.M. Munger. 1983. Two sources conferring partial dominant resistance to powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca fulginea Poll.) in cucumber. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 6:7­8.

Lane, D.P. and H.M. Munger. 1983. Ulocladium cucurbitae leafspot on cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 6:14­15.

Munger, H.M. and David P. Lane. 1983. An improved method of BA application for the promotion of fruit set in muskmelon. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 6:51.

Munger, H.M. and R.L. Washek. 1983. Progress and procedures in breeding CMV resistant C. pepo L. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 6:82­83.

Washek, R.L. and Henry M. Munger. 1983. Hybridization of Cucurbita pepo with disease resistant Cucurbita species. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 6:92.

Munger H.M. 1984. Public and private responsibilities in using genetic resources of horticultural crops. Diversity 6:20, 22.

Munger, H.M., T.A. More, and S. Awni. 1984. A preliminary report on screening watermelons for resistance to watermelon mosaic viruses 1 and 2. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 7:61.

Provvidenti, R., H.M. Munger and H.O. Paulus. 1984. Epidemics of zucchini yellow mosaic virus and other cucurbit viruses in Egypt in the spring of 1983. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 7:78.

Munger, H.M. 1985. Near-isogenic lines of several cucumber varieties. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 8:4­6.

More, T.A. and H.M. Munger. 1986. Gynoecious sex expression and stability in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.). Euphytica 35:899­903.

Munger, H.M. 1987. Adaptation and breeding of vegetable crops for improved human nutrition, p. 177­184. In: B. Quebedeaux and F.A. Bliss (eds.). Horticulture and human health: Contributions of fruits and vegetables. (Proc. 1st Intl. Symp. Horticulture and Human Health, 12­15 Apr.). Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Munger, H.M. and D.P. Lane. 1987. Sources of combined resistance to powdery mildew and corynespora leafspot in cucumber. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 10:1.

Munger, H.M. and R. Provvidenti. 1987. Inheritance of resistance to Zucchini Yellow Mosaic virus in Cucurbita moschata. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 10:80.

Munger, H.M. 1987. Genes and strategies for breeding dwarf slicing cucumbers. HortScience 22:1089 (abstr.).

Munger, H.M. 1988. A revision on controlled pollination of cucumber. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 11:8.

Munger, H.M. 1988. Improving the level of powdery mildew resistance in cucumber. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 11:22.

Munger, H.M. 1990. Availability and use of interspecific populations involving Cucurbita moschata and Cucurbita pepo. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 13:49.

Munger, H.M. and R.W. Robinson. 1991. Nomenclature of Cucumis melo L. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 14:43­44.

Munger, H.M. 1991. Progress in breeding melons for Watermelon Mosaic resistance. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 14:53­54.

Munger, H.M. 1992. Significance of some traits and their combinations in the usage of U.S. cucumber varieties. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 15:17­18.

Munger, H.M. 1993. The role of viruses in sudden wilt of melons in New York. Cucurbit Genet. Coop. Rpt. 16:47­48.

Munger, H.M. 1993. Breeding for viral disease resistance in cucurbits, p. 44­60. In: M.M. Kyle (ed.). Resistance to viral diseases of vegetables: Genetics and breeding. Timber Press, Portland, Ore.

Munger, H.M., M.M. Kyle, and R.W. Robinson. 1993. Cucurbits, p. 47­60. In: Traditional crop breeding practices: An historical review to serve as a baseline for assessing the role of modern biotechnology. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris.

Munger, H.M., Y. Zhang, S.L. Fenton, and M. Kyle. 1995. Leaf blower adapted for large-scale inoculation of plants with mechanically-transmitted viruses. HortScience 30:1266­1267.

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