History – about professor Anto Jurilj

Dr Ante Jurilj

Prof. Anto Jurilj (1910-1981) was Croatian algologist who worked in Tetovo (North Macedonia), Belgrade (Serbia), Zagreb (Croatia) and Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) from 40s to 60s of the 20 century. Most of Jurilj’s scientific work was on the taxonomy, evolution and structure of diatoms. Prof. Anto Jurilj published four articles concerning the diatom flora of Lake Ohrid. Two of his articles (Jurilj 1948, 1954) included descriptions of new diatom taxa from Lake Ohrid, while the two later articles (Jurilj 1956, 1957) were concerned with his concept on the evolution and phylogeny of Surirelloid diatom taxa. In the 1954 publication, Jurilj stated that he had found 50 new taxa, although only 49 were treated as new to science. In this publication (1954) he also rejected three of his previously described genera: Helisella Jurilj, Iconella Jurilj and Plagiodiscus Jurilj, transferring the species to Surirella or to newly established genus Scoliodiscus which accommodated species previously described as Plagiodiscus. Recently, genus Iconella Jurilj is re-evaluated and accepted as a separate genus from Surirella. In summary, Jurilj (1948, 1954) provided descriptions for a total of 44 new taxa from Lake Ohrid and its watershed, four new combinations and one emended description. Until 2014, one of the main problems typifying the species introduced by Jurilj was to find original material. After his death in 1981, the location of his collections could not be traced. During a period of 10 years and many contacts with his former students, we were still not able to locate his original collection. In 2014 thanks to Prof. Damir Viličić the collection was found in Zagreb. However, Prof A. Jurilj visited Dr. Friedrich Hustedt in Plön, Germany and donated to him 20 samples, which are now part of the Hustedt Diatom collection in the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven (BRM, Accession Nos E8240-E8251). The samples in BRM have the same labels as the original material collected by Jurilj and these together with the original collection, were used to typify and provide better description of the species introduced by Prof. A. Jurilj. 

Today, original Ante Jurilj’s Collection is the core part of the Croatian National Diatom Collection. We are currently working on typification and examination of Jurilj’s original material. The goal is to find additional specimens for an improved description of the morphological variability and characteristics of the species.

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