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The first professor who wrote a syllabus about 1,400 species of algae in Vietnam

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Prof Duong Duc Tien, 82, is well known as the first person who mapped the distribution of algae varieties in Vietnam.

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Prof Duong Duc Tien


He identified 1,402 species and sub-species of microalgae in inland waters, including 530 green algae species.

In 1959, after graduating from Hanoi General University, he became a lecturer at the Vietnam Agriculture University where he was assigned to write a syllabus about botany for fishery majors. 

These kind of aquatic plants live in water, are tiny and are a source of food for fish and shrimp. When studying these plants, scientists not only have to describe their appearance, but also understand their relationship with others in the same ecosystem.

At that time, there were very few books and materials about freshwater botany. He had to borrow books in English and French from his teachers. Sometimes he accidentally found valuable books which helped him compile his materials. 

“The books provided basic knowledge about algae to me,” he said.

However, he could not write a syllabus about the algae species which were not in Vietnam. He had to take samples of algae in fields, ponds and streams, learn about them, draw the structure of every species, and classify them. Tien’s only instrument that served his research was a microscope, and he had to draw the morphology of algae manually.

Tien found that rice fields alone contained hundreds of algae species, and that the algae in the Red River Delta was different from that in Mekong Delta, and the algae in lowland rice fields was different from that in mountainous areas.

The first syllabus about freshwater algae written by Tien was used in the Fisheries Faculty of the Vietnam Agriculture University in the 1961-1966 period.

In the 1970s, after hearing from Dang Ngoc Thanh, a marine biologist and oceanographer, that there was a species of red algae in Ba Be Lake which was in danger of extinction, he vowed to find the algae named in the world’s Red Book.

After that, Tien took many more fact-finding trips to survey red algae in Hoa Binh and provinces in the south to find the algae and preserve it.

In 1979, Tien became a PhD student in the former Soviet Union, and did research on 300-400 algae species.

When studying algae, Tien found that spirulina algae is a source of useful vitamins. Tien then created a new variety of spirulina extracted from local algae and algae from Japan, Australia and Africa, suitable for climatic conditions in the north. 



Source: VietNamNet

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