Vavilov, Nikolai Ivanovich

Vavilov, Nikolai Ivanovich nyĭkəlīˈ ēväˈnəvĭch vəvēˈləf [key], 1887–1943?, Russian botanist and geneticist. He is reported to have died in a Soviet concentration camp after losing political favor to Trofim Lysenko, whose theories he opposed. He served earlier as professor at the Leningrad Agricultural Institute and as director of the All-Union Institute of Plant Industry. In 1918 he discovered in Transcaucasia a variety of wheat that grows at an altitude of nearly 3,000 ft (914 m) and is resistant to rust and mildew. His genetic study of wheat variations led to an attempt to trace the locales of origin of various crops by determining the areas in which the greatest number and diversity of their species are to be found. In 1936 he reported that his studies indicated Ethiopia and Afghanistan as the birthplaces of agriculture and hence of civilization. Vavilov divided cultivated plants into those that were domesticated from wild forms, e.g., oats and rye, and those known only in the cultivated form, e.g., corn. After the ouster and death of Lysenko, Vavilov's work regained prestige in the Soviet Union. His Immunity of Plants to Infectious Diseases (1918) includes a summary in English.

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