[Autograph Manuscript:] "De la digestion chez la ver a soie. Memoire suivi –observations sur les maladies de cet insecte; par M. Bouchardat.".
by PASTEUR, Louis (1822-1895).
Paris,: ca.1868., 1868. Holographic manuscript of 2 1/2 pages (on a bifolium and 2 single sheets, unsigned) by Pasteur. 10 1/4 x 7 3/4 inches [255 x x198 mm]. Custom beige gilt-stamped leather folding case by Atmore Beach. Fine. Pasteur writes regarding the digestive mechanism of silkworms, discussing previous research by Apollinaire Bouchardat and presented to the Academie des Sciences, on digestion in mammals, and published in the Comptes Rendus. The silk industry represented a significant portion of the French economy in the 19th century, and thus silk worms were particularly precious to the French. Starting in 1853, the worms began to be infected with two then-unknown diseases, now known as flacherie [a disease caused by silkworms eating infected or contaminated mulberry leaves] and pebrine, or "pepper disease" [which is caused by protozoan microsporidian parasites], and by 1865, farmers were financially devastated due to the silk worms' resulting high death rate. Pasteur was asked to come to the town of Ales in the south of France to solve this mystery and save the silk industry. After five years, he was able to successful isolate the problems, and determine a method to stop the spread of the diseases. / Pasteur's groundbreaking work Etudes sur les maladies des vers a soie, written in 1870, recounts his researches and discoveries during this time. In the present manuscript, Pasteur analyses Apollinaire Bouchardat's 1850 work "De la digestion chez le ver a soie. Memoire suivi d'observations sur les maladies de cet insecte,"which was published in chapter 31 of the Comptes Rendus in 1850, focusing on Bouchardat's description of the silk worm's anatomy, and in particular his description of their digestive tract: "L'auteur rappelle que les anatomistes de... dans les vers a soie l'estomac et l'intestin, et il dit que les matières contenus dans l'estomac sont très alcalines..." Boucharat's work was one of many that Pasteur studied while trying to understand what was happening to the silk worms, and it is interesting to see that even at this early stage, Pasteur had an idea that the diseases killing the worms were related to their digestive systems. Apollinaire Bouchardat (1806-1886) was a French pharmacist and hygienist known as the founder of diabetology. He believed that exercise and diet were major factors in controlling the disease, and speculated that the main cause of the disease was located in the pancreas. / "The stomach digestion of the higher animals is very different from that which we find in the insects since in the first case it consists essentially in the dissolution of albuminous, fibrinous & gelatinous materials, under the influence of a digestive liquid characterized by its acidity and by the presence of a special ferment 'gasterase'. There is nothing similar in the silkworm; the digestion of the albuminous material is effected ... with that of the fatty and starchy or fibrous, all or mostly in the narrow portion called the intestine by the anatomists ... If these views conformed, it would be necessary ... to admit that the herbivorous insects are [not] provided with a stomach, only the considerable portion of their digestive tube which follows from the oesophagous being considered as the organ corresponding to the small intestine ...", etc.
(Inventory #: M13535)
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