Koltsov, Nikolai Konstantinovich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kol’tsov, Nikolai Konstantinovich


Born July 3 (15), 1872, in Moscow; died Dec. 2, 1940, in Leningrad (buried in Moscow). Soviet biologist; founder of experimental biology in Russia and the USSR. Corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1915), academician of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences (1929).

Kol’tsov graduated from Moscow University in 1894. He was sent on missions to marine zoological stations in Naples, Villafranca (1899), and Roscoff and to the biological laboratories of several European universities. In 1899 he became an assistant professor at Moscow University. In 1903 he became a professor with the Advanced Courses for Women. In 1908 he became a professor at Shaniavskii University.

From 1917 to 1938, Kol’tsov was head of the Institute of Experimental Biology, which he had organized. After conducting certain fundamental research in the comparative anatomy of vertebrates, he turned his attention principally to experimental cytology, physicochemical biology, and genetics. He demonstrated, mainly using the spermatozoa of decapods, the formative importance of the cellular “skeleton” (Kol’tsov’s principle), the effects of ionic series on the reactions of contractile and pigment cells, and the effects of physicochemical influences on activating the development of unfertilized egg cells.

In 1928, Kol’tsov became the first to develop a hypothesis of the molecular structure and template-type reproduction of chromosomes (”hereditary molecules”). In this he anticipated the most important theoretical propositions of contemporary molecular biology and genetics. Kol’tsov inspired the Moscow schools of experimental zoologists, cytologists, and geneticists (S. S. Chetverikov, A. S. Serebrovskii, M. M. Zavadovskii, G. V. Epshtein, and S. L. Frolova).


Organizatsiia kletki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.