Omelianskii, Vasilii Leonidovich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Omelianskii, Vasilii Leonidovich


Born Feb. 26 (Mar. 10), 1867, in Poltava; died Apr. 21, 1928, in Gagra. Soviet microbiologist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1923; corresponding member, 1916). A student of S. N. Vinogradskii.

Omelianskii graduated from St. Petersburg University in 1890. From 1893 to 1928 he worked in the department of general microbiology of the Institute of Experimental Medicine; in 1912 he became head of the department. Omelianskii’s principal works deal with the role of microorganisms in the nitrogen and carbon cycles in nature. He proposed methods of isolating and culturing nitrifying bacteria and studied their morphology and physiology. He was the first to isolate cultures of anaerobic and spore-bearing bacteria that ferment cellulose to yield organic acids and hydrogen. He studied an aerobic nitrogen-fixing bacterium (of the genus Azotobacter) and demonstrated the existence of bacteria that form methane from ethyl alcohol. He showed that the quantity of nitrogen assimilated by nitrogen-fixing microorganisms is proportional to the assimilation of organic matter. Omelianskii was the first to demonstrate the possibility of using microorganisms as chemical tracers.

Omelianskii was the editor of the journal Arkhiv biologiches-kikh nauk (Archives of the Biological Sciences; 1906–28). His Foundations of Microbiology (1909) and A Practical Manual of Microbiology (1922) were used to train several generations of Soviet microbiologists.


Izbrannye trudy, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1953.


Shturm, L. D. “V. L. Omelianskii: Ego zhizn’ i nauchnaia deiatel’nost’.” Mikrobiologiia, 1953, vol. 22. issue 4, pp. 363–75. (Short essay.)


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