Bataillon was awarded the Osiris Prize.
University of Lyons, Lyon, France
Eugène Bataillon studied at the University of Lyons where he received his Bachelor of Science degree.
Eugene Bataillon, French zoologist and biologist.
Although Bataillon had a scholarship to the petit séminaire of Vaux-sur-Poligny, he refused to prepare for an ecclesiastic career. After he had passed the first part of his baccalauréat ès lettres in 1882, he became a surveillant at the Collège d’Arbois; after passing the second, he was made assistant master at the Belfort lycée and started work on his licence in philosophy.
Bataillon next went to Lyons as a master at the lycée and, when he had passed his baccalauréat ès sciences, he became a student under the physiologist Fernand Arloing. As a licencié ès sciences naturelles, he became an assistant in zoology at the University of Lyons in 1887 and learned the elementary techniques of experimental embryology under Laurent Chabry. On 17 April 1891, Bataillon presented a thesis for the doctorate in science, La métamorphose des amphibiens anoures.
In 1891, Bataillon was made acting lecturer at the Faculté des Sciences at Lyons and deputy lecturer in zoology and physiology at Dijon in 1892. There he became a professor of general biology (the first chair so named in France) in 1903, and dean in 1907. It was in Dijon that he discovered the traumatic parthenogenesis of the batrachians. Appointed professor at the University of Strasbourg, which was being reorganized in 1919, he first set up a new laboratory and then temporarily served as rector. He became rector of the University of Clermont-Ferrand in 1921 but left this administrative position in 1924 to accept a professorship of zoology and comparative anatomy at Montpellier. There he met his principal collaborator, Chou Su, who thereafter helped him in his research. In 1932 Chou Su had to return to China to teach, and Bataillon decided to retire ahead of time. He went to live with one of his sons at Castelnau-le-Lez and later on the outskirts of Montpellier.
The experimental attempts to produce parthenogenesis with sodium chloride and sugar hypertonic solutions or butyric acid had failed, resulting only in an abortive segmentation of the egg (simple activation). During an experimental attempt to fertilize Bufo calamita with sperm of Triturus alpestris, Bataillon, struck by the resemblance of the spermatozoa to fine needles, thought of substituting glass or platinum stylets for them. On a Sunday in March 1910 the experiment performed on Rana temporaria was successful and resulted in 90 percent of the eggs being segmented, of which about 10 percent evolved into normal larvae able to survive.
The analysis of these results demonstrated that besides the simple pricking (first activating factor) there is a second regulating factor, which can be identified as a cell or an inoculated cellular fragment. Operating upon eggs freed of their gelatin coating by potassium cyanide, Bataillon demonstrated, in an elegant experiment, using horse blood that had been defibrinated and sedimented, that the element inoculated was a leukocyte. Later, J. Shaver revealed that the active element is a cytoplasmic fragment rich in ribonucleoproteins.
By this interpretation, Bataillon corrected Guyer’s error. Guyer had attributed to the nucleus of the leukocyte, released inside the egg by the pricking, the power to divide itself and to direct the embryogenesis. The activator thus provoked the “proper reaction” of the egg membrane, making any further fertilization impossible; there followed a special monocentric rhythm, a succession of monopolar mitoses that were, of course, abortive. The second regulating factor was necessary to determine the sequence of the bipolar mitoses (dicentrie or amphiastral rhythm), the only ones capable of bringing about segmentation and, consequently, normal development. An intermediate type of mitosis, bipolar but anastral, appeared when the regulation was insufficient.
Electric shocks, pricking by galvanocautery, and the action of fat solvents could all be the activating factor, but only a biological factor could be the regulator. The latter, however, was not a specific: blood of other anurans, urodeles, fish, or mammals could replace the blood of Rana. The action of potassium cyanide as a chemical unsheathing agent was a fortuitous discovery which confirmed that unfertilized eggs pricked, but not smeared with blood, never undergo morphogenesis; it also made possible the experiment with defibrinated and sedimented horse’s blood, which could be performed only on naked eggs. Eggs sheathed in serum before pricking showed no regular cleavage; those sheathed in red corpuscles showed only 1 percent; and those sheathed in leukocytes showed 75 percent. He gave the explanation that the inoculated leukocyte acts only as a regulator and does, not cause any intervention due to chromosome incompatibilities.
Bataillon had become a corresponding member of the Académie des Sciences in 1916 and a full member in 1946.
Bataillon was known for having a modest personality, and his deliberate reticence have lessened his reputation.