Vavilov Nikolai Ivanovich
outstanding Russian scientist, botanist, plant grower, geneticist,
geographer and science organizer, academician. The
older brother of the famous physicist S.I. Vavilova.
Born in Moscow. In
1906 he graduated from the Moscow Commercial School, and then in
1910 the Moscow Agricultural Institute (former Petrovsky Academy),
where he was left at the department of private agriculture, which
was headed by D.N. Pryanishnikov. Vavilov
trained in Russia and abroad with prominent scientists of the time,
such as R.E. Regel,
U. Batson, E. Haeckel, in the largest seed-growing company
the outbreak of the First World War, Vavilov hardly managed to get
out of Germany to Russia, and in 1916 went on an expedition to Iran,
then to the Pamirs. Returning
to Moscow, he taught, assorted imported materials, conducted
experiments with early-wheat Pamir, conducted experiments on
immunity on experimental plots in the Peter's Academy. In
1918, he was elected a professor at the Department of Genetics,
Breeding and Private Agriculture of the Saratov Agricultural
In 1921, together with a group of employees, Vavilov moved to
Petrograd, where he headed the Department of Applied Botany and
the same 1921, he visited the United States at the International
Congress on Agriculture, got acquainted with the work of the Crop
Bureau in Washington and the work of the Colombian laboratory of
In 1922, Vavilov was appointed director of the State Institute of
Experimental Agronomy, in 1924 - director of the All-Union Institute
of Applied Botany and New Cultures, in 1930 - Director of VIR, where
he created the department of genetics. The
Laboratory of Genetics headed by him in 1933 was transformed into
the Institute of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
In 1934, together with the entire Academy of Sciences, Vavilov
moved from Leningrad to Moscow.
In 1923, he was elected a corresponding member, and in 1929 an
academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences, during 1931–1940 he
was president of the All-Union Geographical Society, and in 1942, a
foreign member of the Royal Society of London.
Vavilov is rightfully considered the founder of the doctrine of
plant immunity to infectious diseases, which continued the general
doctrine of immunity, developed by I.I. Mechnikov.
In the 1920–1930s, Vavilov was a participant and organizer of
many expeditions to collect cultivated plants. He
visited Afghanistan, Japan, China, the countries of Central and
South America, North Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean,
Ethiopia, Eritrea and others, and after 1933 various regions of the
and his staff collected a rich collection of plant samples. By
1940, it contained about 200 thousand forms. Vavilov
implemented the idea of a “census” of varieties of all cultivated
plants and the need to store the collected specimens not in a dried
form, but as live, sown annually. In
1926, he created a theory of centers of origin and diversity of
cultivated plants, which are located mainly in five foci:
mountainous regions of South-Western and South-Eastern Asia, the
Mediterranean, mountainous Ethiopia, South and Central
America.Subsequently, the Vavilov concept was modified, the number
of foci reached eight, and in the final formulation there were
Since the mid-1930s, mainly after the famous IV session of the
Academy of Agricultural Sciences in December 1936, Vavilov became
the main and most authoritative opponent of Lysenko and other
representatives of Timiriazev-Michurin-Lysenko’s agrobiology, who
promised a quick restoration of agriculture through plant nurturing.
.Vavilov called this group of biologists "neo-Marmarists" and
treated them tolerantly as representatives of another, but with the
right to exist point of view. Moreover,
it was Vavilov who supported the work of Lysenko and even nominated
him in 1934 as a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of
Sciences, which gave a serious impetus to the quick career of a
fighter with “pests in science”.
During another expedition to the newly annexed Western Ukraine,
on August 6, 1940, Vavilov was arrested (the decision to arrest was
personally approved by L.P. Beria).By the decision of the military
college of the USSR Supreme Court of July 9, 1941, he was accused of
belonging to the anti-Soviet organization Labor Peasant Party, of
sabotage and espionage and sentenced to death. At
trial, Vavilov denied all charges. For
a long time he spent on death row in Butyrka in anticipation of the
petition for clemency, signed by Vavilov and other scientists
involved in the case, was rejected.
All the convicts passing through this case were shot. As
regards Vavilov, the sentence was imposed on the initiative of L.P. Beria
was postponed and later replaced by 20 years of imprisonment. The
change of sentence was the result of active intervention by D.N. Pryanishnikov,
who addressed Beria through his wife and his student, who worked at
the Department of Agrochemistry of the Timiryazev Academy.
Memorial plaque. Petersburg,
Malaya Morskaya, 2
Memorial plaque. Petersburg,
Malaya Morskaya, 44
In October 1941, Vavilov was sent to the Saratov prison at prison
No. 1, where, due to the absence of documents in the accompanying
papers to change the sentence, he was again put on death row. She
was underground and had no windows, suicide bombers were deprived of
became sick with scurvy, then dystrophy began. In
1942, Vavilov’s wife was evacuated to Saratov and lived two or three
kilometers from the prison; however, the misled NKVD believed that
her husband was imprisoned in Moscow.
In prison, after being transferred to a common cell, sick and
exhausted by the expectation of death, Vavilov wrote, unfortunately,
a book that was not preserved, The History of the Development of
World Agriculture, read to other prisoners lectures on genetics.
He died in the Saratov prison. The
headstone is set to Central
alley of the Resurrection
Cemetery in Saratov.
A glacier in
the southwest of the island of the October Revolution of the
Severnaya Zemlya archipelago. It
was named in the early 1950s by Arctic geologists.