Trofim Denisovich Lysenko


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Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich

(lĭsĕng`kō, Rus. trəfēm` dyĭnyē`səvĭch lĭsyĕn`kə), 1898–1976, Russian agronomist. As president of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences he became the scientific and administrative leader of Soviet agriculture. In 1937 he was made a member of the Supreme Soviet and head of the Institute of Genetics of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He first became known for his process (vernalization) of moistening and refrigerating the seed of spring wheat, thereby reputedly imparting to it characteristics of winter wheat. He became the leader of the Soviet school of genetics that opposed the theories of heredity accepted by most geneticists and supported the doctrine that characteristics acquired through environmental influences are inherited (see acquired characteristicsacquired characteristics,
modifications produced in an individual plant or animal as a result of mutilation, disease, use and disuse, or any distinctly environmental influence. Some examples are docking of tails, malformation caused by disease, and muscle atrophy.
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). Lysenko rejected neo-Mendelism and was a disciple of the Russian horticulturist I. V. Michurin. Lysenko's theories were offered as Marxist orthodoxy and won the official support (1948) of the Soviet Central Committee. However, they were severely criticized after the death of Stalin in 1953, and in 1956 his resignation as president of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences was announced. In 1965 he was removed as director of the Institute of Genetics, which resulted in the return of Soviet biological thought to the mainstream of international scientific ideas. Lysenko stated his theories of inheritance of acquired characteristics in Heredity and Its Variability (1943, tr. 1946) and in The Science of Biology Today (1948, tr. 1948).

Bibliography

See J. Huxley, Heredity: East and West (1949, repr. 1969); Z. A. Medvedev, The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko (tr. 1969); D. Joravsky, The Lysenko Affair (1970); V. N. Soyfer, Lysenko and the Tragedy of Soviet Science (1994).

Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich

 

Born Sept. 17 (29), 1898, in the village of Karlovka (the present-day city of Karlovka), Poltava Oblast, Ukrainian SSR; died Nov. 20, 1976. Soviet biologist and agronomist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (AN SSSR; 1939), the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (1934), and the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences (1935). Hero of Socialist Labor (1945).

Lysenko graduated from the Kiev Agricultural Institute in 1925. From 1922 to 1925 he was a senior specialist at the Belaia Tserkov’ Breeding Station, and from 1925 to 1929, head of the legumes breeding division of the Giandzha Breeding Station. He was a senior specialist in the physiology division of the All-Union Research Institute of Selection and Genetics in Odessa from 1929 to 1934 and scientific director and director of the institute from 1934 to 1938. From 1940 to 1965 he was director of the Institute of Genetics of the AN SSSR. In 1938 he became scientific director and, in 1966, director of the laboratory of the Gorky Leninskie Experimental Research Station of the AN SSSR (near Moscow). He was president of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences from 1938 to 1956 and from 1961 to 1962.

Lysenko developed a theory of the phasic development of plants and a method of directing a change from hereditarily fixed winter grain varieties into hereditarily fixed spring varieties, and vice versa. He proposed a number of farming techniques (vernalization, cotton chopping, summer planting of potatoes). A number of Lysenko’s theories and proposals failed to be experimentally confirmed or extensively applied. Lysenko was a deputy to the first through sixth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He was awarded the State Prize of the USSR, several Orders of Lenin, and various medals.

WORKS

Izbr. soch., vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1958.