Vavilov Nikolai Ivanovich 
(13(25).11.1887–26.01.1943)


An 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, A.A. Yachevsky, U. Batson, E. Haeckel, in the largest seed-growing company Vilmorenov. After 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 Institute. 
In 1921, together with a group of employees, Vavilov moved to Petrograd, where he headed the Department of Applied Botany and Breeding. In 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 T.G. Morgana 
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 USSR. He 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 seven. 
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 execution. 
A petition for clemency, signed by Vavilov and other scientists involved in the case, was rejected.

 

Prison photo


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 walks. Vavilov 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.

 

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