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Lourens Baas Becking

Lourens Gerhard Marinus Baas Becking (Deventer, January 4, 1895 – January 6, 1963) was a Dutch botanist and microbiologist. He is known for the Baas-Becking hypothesis, which he originally formulated as "Everything is everywhere, but the environment selects".[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Baas Becking hypothesis 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4


Baas Becking was born in United States. In 1923, Baas Becking accepted the position of professor at Stanford, where he taught economic botany and plant physiology.[2]

Baas Becking's studies at Stanford heavily influenced his later work by introducing him to research on extremophiles, research he conducted himself as the director of the Jacques Loeb Marine Laboratory in Pacific Grove.[2] In particular, Baas Becking studied the salt lakes and methane-rich reservoirs in California.[3]

Baas Becking returned to the Netherlands in 1930 as a professor of general botany at the Bogor, on the island of Java, with the intention of restoring the garden to its former glory [4]

Although his family moved to Java in 1940, the Battle of the Netherlands prevented his leaving, and he remained in the Netherlands during the five-year occupation. During this time, he was twice imprisoned for trying to escape to England. During his imprisonment, Baas Becking studied the typhoid fever spreading through his prison camp, and he began writing a book on Geobiology.[4]

After World War II, Baas Becking was initially prevented from beginning his work in Bogor due to the Indonesian Revolution. He moved to New Caledonia in 1948, after being appointed president of the scientific council of the South Pacific Commission.[4]

Baas Becking later worked for the Cronulla and Canberra. The Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra recognized Baas Becking's contributions by opening the Baas Becking Geobiological Laboratory.[4]

Baas Becking hypothesis

Based on his research in California's salt lakes, as well as work by others on salt lakes worldwide, Baas Becking concluded, "Everything is everywhere, but the environment selects".[5] Baas Becking attributed the first half of this hypothesis to his colleague Leiden Botanical Laboratory.[4]

Baas Becking presented a series of lectures on the subject to the Diligentia in The Hague, which he published as a book titled Geobiology in 1934.[4]

Baas Becking's hypothesis is often misquoted, with the "but" missing or replaced with "and".[7]


  1. ^ Baas-Becking, Lourens G.M. (1934), Geobiologie of inleiding tot de milieukunde, The Hague, the Netherlands: W.P. Van Stockum & Zoon 
  2. ^ a b c d Quispel (1998) p. 69
  3. ^ a b de Wit and Bouvier (2006) p. 756
  4. ^ a b c d e f Quispel (1998) p. 70
  5. ^ Translated from the original Dutch: "Alles is overal: maar het milieu selecteert"
  6. ^ Staley and Gosink (1999) p. 193
  7. ^ de Wit and Bouvier (2006) p. 755
  8. ^ "'"Author Query for 'Baas-Beck..  


  • Quispel (1998) "Lourens G. M. Baas Becking (1895-1963), Inspirator for many (micro)biologists", International Microbiology 1: 69-72
  • Staley and Gosink (1999) "Poles Apart: Biodiversity and Biogeography of Sea Ice Bacteria", Annual Review of Microbiology 53: 189-215
  • de Wit and Bouvier (2006) ; what did Baas Becking and Beijerinck really say?", the environment selects'but'Everything is everywhere," Environmental Microbiology 8:4 755-758
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