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Bernard Pélissier: L’Homme des Bois – The Man From the Forest

The forest is an essential part of his life: Dr. Bernard Pélissier from Lyon, France, loves being in the nature and enjoys the smell of fresh wood. For Bayer, Pélissier works on genetic transformation, vitro cultures and all types of modern biotechnology.

In the evening, I treat myself to a home-cooked meal, perhaps with mushrooms I gathered myself.

Bernard Pélissier about his idea of a perfect day

My personal passion is my forest, which I inherited from my mother. I love to wander, hike and rest there, hunt for mushrooms or even tidy it up a bit. The one thing I don’t do is shoot animals. I just can’t do this. Usually I’m out alone in my forest, which is about 70 hectares in size, near Bergerac in the Périgord region of France. I enjoy those days, even if some friends think I’m a little eccentric and teasingly call me “l’homme des bois” – the man from the forest.

Pioneer in Making a Plant Resistant to Herbicides

There’s still an old farmhouse in my forest. It doesn’t have modern heating, and the only way to make the house warm in winter is to light fires in all of the fireplaces and stoves. It still takes two days before you can move around the house without a jacket. But I enjoy this simple life, maybe because of the complete contrast to my high-tech work environment. At Bayer, my field is invitro cultures, genetic transformation, all types of modern biotechnology. I conduct research to make plants more resistant to biotic stress factors such as fungal infections. In the 1990s, I was part of a team that was called pioneers: We were the first in Europe to create a herbicide-resistant plant. After we achieved this, we focused on a new variety of soybean.

Passion for Harley-Davidson

Since I was a child, I’ve been interested in nature. I always wanted to know what was going on around me or how something worked. I also love living in the country. I like to climb on my Harley-Davidson. I named it ‘Fat Boy’ – it’s my second big passion. I often ride across France to my forest.

Every season in the forest is magnificent: spring, when everything is growing; fall, when the trees look like a great paint box; winter, when it is silent and still. Summer is the only season I don’t always like because it can get very hot. I love the scent of freshly-cut wood and the steam rising off the trees after it rains. In the evening, I treat myself to a home-cooked meal, perhaps with mushrooms I gathered myself. That’s my idea of a perfect day.

CV: Milestones in Dr. Pélissier’s Career

1954 born in Montpellier, France

1976 Biology at the University of Toulouse, France

1984 Doctoral thesis on plant physiology/phytopathology

1985 Joined Rhône Poulenc to develop herbicide tolerance traits

1994 Visitor scientist at Ohio State University

1994 Part of the team at Bayer that developed Europe’s first herbicide resistant crop

2008 His team won the Bayer Crop Science Innovation Award for breeding a new herbicide-resistant soybean

2016 Lab Leader in Biochemistry/Biotechnology at Bayer Crop Science in Lyon, France

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