Genetics in the Soviet Union: Three Speeches From the 1939 Conference on Genetics and Selection

Written: 1939
Source: Science and Society Volume IV, No. 3, Summer 1940;
Online Version: For May, 2002.

THE following three addresses were presented at a Conference on Genetics and Selection held in Moscow from October 7 to 14,1939. Fifty-three scientists presented their positions at the open meetings of the Conference, but the principal disputants, representing widely different views on theory and methods in genetics, were Vavilov and Lysenko. Vavilov, director of the Institute of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, is the leader or one school of thought, while Lysenko, director of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, is the principal spokesman for a Soviet trend in genetics which takes its inspiration from the work of Michurin, often called "the Russian Burbank." Because of their prominence and leading roles in the controversy, the speeches of Vavilov and Lysenko are here presented almost in full, together with the address of I. M. Polyakov who takes perhaps the most interesting intermediate position. Vavilov's talk is translated almost completely, only obviously unimportant remarks being omitted here and there. Considerably more has been deleted from the speeches of Lysenko and Polyakov. Since no time limit was imposed on the speakers, the Conference papers are long. Limitation of space unfortunately prevents our publishing the important addresses of V. K. Morozov, P. P. Dubinin, N. N. Grishko and (Madame) B. G. Potashnikova, all of which were printed, along with those of Vavilov, Lysenko and Polyakov, in Pod Znamenem Marksizma (Under the Banner of Marxism, 1939, no. 11).

The same issue of this famous Soviet philosophical periodical ran a general review of the Conference, and the previous issue carried a long critique and evaluation of the positions of the various speakers by the philosopher, M. Mitin. As head of the Philosophical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, Professor Mitin expresses more than other commentators the attitude of the Soviet government, which is vitally interested in the progress of genetics, as of science in general. In view of the charges, frequently heard in the United States, that the Soviet government uses its authority to curtail scientific disputes, it is interesting to note that the present conference was called by the editors of Under the Banner of Marxism in order that everyone should have the opportunity to present his case, and that the Soviet philosopher, Mitin, gives a most balanced judgment on the contending parties. Freely acknowledging the great scientific achievements of both Vavilov and Lysenko, he takes Vavilov to task for not bringing his theoretical work into close relation to practical work, for example, to that of the seed selection stations; but he also criticizes the followers of Lysenko for dogmatism and exaggerated claims.[1] The widespread American interest in Soviet genetics and the wholly inadequate, often completely distorted, reports of the genetic controversy in the Soviet Union, which have appeared in our newspapers and scientific journals, reports which misrepresent both the content and tenor of the dispute, have prompted the editors of SCIENCE AND SOCIETY to publish the two leading papers of the last Conference together with a thesis intermediate between the two. It is to be hoped that these translations from the stenographic record of the Conference will help to dispel the misrepresentation and insinuation which has been fostered by reports of commentators in this country, and that with further knowledge of the issue and evidence in the case, they will be less inclined than heretofore to inject suppositious political motives into a scientific controversy.

The editors are especially indebted to Henry F. Mins, Jr. for the translation of many articles of the Conference from which the three below were selected.--Editors.


ALL developments of genetics in our country date from the establishment of the Soviet regime. Professorial chairs in genetics have been established, the first in 1919-20. Soviet work in the sphere of genetics and selection has progressed rapidly. Especially since 1927, the date of the Fifth International Genetics Congress in Berlin after the Imperialist War, research has been in progress in the Soviet Union in practically every field.

We have no crises here. On the contrary, there is an expansion. A large active school of research workers has been created, embracing all the most important branches of contemporary genetics and, especially interesting for the section of philosophers, a division of experimental study of evolution.

What is the situation regarding genetics abroad? There, as is well known, far-reaching economic crises have taken place, sharply reflected in science as well. We see how Goldschmidt and Stern, important geneticists, had to flee Germany. Even in such a wealthy country as the United States one of the outstanding genetics institutes is closing--the Bussey Institute, near Boston, connected with Harvard University. In wealthy America the editorial board of the magazine Genetics must appeal to its readers for donations in order that publication of the magazine may continue. A number of selection institutions have been closed.

During the short space of time between the two last congresses, i.e., between l932 (the date of the Sixth International Congress of Genetics in the United States) and 1939 (the Seventh Congress in Scotland) major advances have been made in our knowledge of the material bases of heredity, in elaborating the chromosome theory of heredity. The development of the work of Muller in mastering the mutation process leads to the deepening of our knowledge about the hereditary variations of mutation sequences. The findings of Painter have led to significant extension of our knowledge concerning the material basis of heredity and the structure of chromosomes. New tendencies are to be observed in the study of the causes of mutation. A series of interpretative works devoted to physiological genetics is coming out. If you were to take the program of the last congress, you would see that it was to a considerable degree devoted to problems of physiological genetics. It is necessary to remember that the leader of American genetics, Morgan, besides being a geneticist, is an important embryologist.

The Soviet scientist must not pass by these major events. We are now raising the teachings of Darwinism to grand heights. In this connection the great progress in world science through experiments in genetics must not be underestimated.

Let us turn to practical selection abroad. I shall indicate two important facts. On the basis of genetic research conducted by theorists and not by practical workers in the United States during the last few years, methods were devised for improving the yield of maize by outcrossing. The method was so widely used that in 1938 over 15 million acres of Indian corn were sown by this technique. According to official information received-from the United States Department of Agriculture, this increased the yield by two and one-half million tons. In 1939, the acreage was considerably increased to 25 million acres. In our country about 5 million acres of maize are under cultivation.

The second major practical achievement of selection abroad on the basis of contemporary genetic theory is the discovery, in 1938, of an immune species of wheat in Canada. After one hundred years of effort it is now possible to stop the epidemic of stalk rust which here, in the U.S.S.R., is one of the greatest evils in the culture of spring wheats. Thanks to the immune species discovered by means of the crossing of various species the epidemic has been checked in Canada. The biology of rust is understood, in a significant measure, on the basis of the methods of genetics, which have led to increased understanding of the origins of new races of parasites. This is a novel, highly interesting branch of parasitology, worked out completely on the basis of genetics and cytology. These facts are undeniable. The newly discovered immune species were sown in great quantity last year in Canada, in regions infected with rust. These new species stopped the epidemic and saved millions of tons of grain. Many other examples could be cited from various countries.

The last few years have witnessed the appearance of a great number of important general works and original monographs. After almost a ten year delay, the five volume manual on selection is being published in Germany under the editorship of Romer and Rudorf, summing up Western European practice and theory, and using to a great extent our Soviet experiments. This fundamental manual on selection shows clearly, both in its general discussion and in application to particular crops, the great significance of modern genetic theory in selection. At about the same time, there appeared the Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture comprising about 3000 pages in two volumes, devoted to the application of genetics to breeding, both of plants and animals. The very publication of these two volumes is historic. It shows that in the field of agronomy in the United States genetics plays the most active role.

I shall not enumerate a whole series of other publications on selection.

Voice: Could you, Nikolai Ivanovich, give the titles and authors?

Vavilov: "Yearbook of the U. S. Department of Agriculture" for 1936-1937. These volumes are published in huge editions (150,000) and are sent to farmers. Their contents show that the practical Yankees, who have given a great deal of attention to selection, are guided throughout by modern genetic theory. That is an indubitable fact. I do not know a single manual on selection in America or other countries, which does not give three-fourths of its space to genetic theory.

The rapidity of advances in genetics is shown by the fact that general introductions to plant cytology and genetics are obsolete before they appear. The fundamental work of Darlington on genetic cytology, which appeared four to five years ago, has already appeared in a second edition. Sansome's book, Recent Advances in Plant Genetics, published five years ago, was published this year in a second edition. Important works appear nearly every month.

Partly because of our disagreements, we are learning mainly from obsolete works, for example, Sinnott and Dunn, the basic American text book, which is used in our schools in a translation from the 1932 edition. If you open the new American edition of 1939, you would not recognize many chapters. It is a completely new book, quite unlike the one from which we learn in our country.

We can point to a number of new books on genetics, such as Waddington, Sturtevant and Beadle, published this year. I dwell on these facts in order to show the activity in this field.

It is proposed that all this be repudiated. Soviet selection and genetics face a series of contradictions. It is impossible for this reason not to express deep appreciation to the editorial board of the magazine Pod Znamenem Marksizma for convoking this conference. It is hoped that it will dispel the prevailing unhealthy atmosphere.

Our first basic difference is in the interpretation of hereditary and non-hereditary variables. The foundation of contemporary study in selection and genetics appears to be, judging from all past work, the distinction between hereditary and non-hereditary variables, as exemplified in the terms genotype and phenotype, introduced by Johannsen. As the history of selection here and abroad shows, the most important achievements are closely linked with the acceptance of these concepts in the practice of selection.

Svalof selection station has been accepted by the common consent of geneticists and selectionists as the leading selection institution in the world for both theoretical and practical work. The practical results of this station are so important that even in our country, with a climate that differs from that of southern Sweden, we are able to make wide use of such varieties of oats as Victory, Golden Rain, Eagle, and others developed by this station. These varieties cover millions of acres in our country. In connection with the fiftieth anniversary of this station two years ago reports were issued reviewing the great work which it had accomplished and the errors in methods which the station had overcome. You will see from these accounts that at the basis of all practical attainments lies the conception of phenotype and genotype, the differentiation of inherited and non-inherited variations. In an empirical manner, the station succeeded in applying individual selection to self-pollinating plants even before Johannsen. This method is grounded in theory and widely infused into practice since the research of Johannsen.

And now Academician Lysenko appears to tell us that there is no distinction between genotype and phenotype, that it is not fitting to differentiate between hereditary and non-hereditary variables, that modifications are not distinguishable from genetical variations. Furthermore, affairs have gone so far that the People's Commissariat of Agriculture, which follows attentively the developments in science, as is indeed fitting in our country, has decided to change radically the methods of the selection stations, according to the suggestions of Academician Lysenko who believes that the inherited structure of species can be changed by upbringing, by the influence of agro-technical methods. These changes in methods are being carried out at present under obligation in all our stations, although no experimental data whatever has shown the necessity for the departure from concepts experimentally worked out and accepted.

This question is basic to selection, and in order to change the methods of selection of self-pollinating forms, substantial reasons and experiments are needed. These are not as yet in evidence.

Let us pass on to a subject which will be developed, of course, more fully by other speakers, i.e., the chromosome theory. I shall content myself with the statement that the chromosome theory has been in process of elaboration for not less than eighty years. Embryology is based on it. It is founded on a colossal amount of factual material. One can hardly name another branch of biological science which has been so carefully studied. Those who have become acquainted with the chromosome theory are astonished by the quantity of work and its verification on the most diversified material. When I studied in the laboratory of Dr. Morgan, and worked side by side with the most noteworthy representatives of this school, I saw with my own eyes on what truly extensive, and exceedingly precise experimental material the chromosome theory rests.

Great events have occurred in recent years in the application of the chromosome theory to the sphere of remote hybridization of unrelated forms. What greater miracle can we imagine in our biological science, comrades, than we are witnessing in the transformation of completely sterile hybrids into fertile seed and pollen bearers, accompanied by a reduplication of the chromosomes under the influence of specific factors.

Lysenko: Which factors?

Vavilov: Physical and chemical factors of which we know a great number. Particularly we must note the remarkable work of Academician A. A. Shmuk in our country who founded the theory of chemical induction invoking polyploidy in hybrid and non-hybrid forms. Dozens of chemical compounds are available for this purpose. The latest work of Academician Shmuk, who is unfortunately seriously ill at present, showed that one of these substances is colchicine, a readily soluble compound which acts on many diverse kinds of plants. Physical agents, such as temperature, and biological factors, as for example, the incision of plants, may also be effective.

This subject has particular interest, because more than half of all flowering plants are members of polyploid series. There is no doubt that polyploidy has played an important role in evolution. Polyploid induction has thus great practical as well as theoretical significance.

To deny the role of the chromosomes, to attempt tot explain everything in terms of organism as a whole or of the cell, is to set biological science back a century.

The third issue which has aroused sharp and fundamental debate is Mendelism and the phenomena of hybrid inheritance. This matter has already been developed in great detail. I will content myself with asserting, as a plant breeder, that in the field of hybridization of plants reproducing sexually, it is now impossible to conceive of work without applying the laws of Mendel. I. V. Michurin had a somewhat skeptical attitude towards Mendel's generalizations, because he himself worked with fruit trees which are reproduced asexually, making it possible to disregard many phenomena of extreme importance in sexual reproduction. Moreover, Michurin was aware of the complex heterozygous nature of the fruit varieties and species he used. He understood perfectly why it is possible to dispense with the laws of Mendel in the case of vegetatively reproducing fruits. But Michurin paid great attention to the achievements of genetics. I knew him intimately from 1920 on. It fell to me to persuade him of the necessity of preparing for the press the results of his work and to take part in the publication of his work in 1922-23.

I must point out that I. V. Michurin valued modern genetics so highly that he directed his students to your humble servant, i.e., a hundred per cent Mendelian and Morganist, at the Institute of Genetics, and some of his closest students are to a certain extent my students too, whom I infected with Mendelism and Morganism. They are here.

Voice: Are they still your followers?

Vavilov: I spoke at the beginning of my speech about the "mutation process" which has taken place in recent years, and perhaps you will explain the nature of this mutation process and possibly cause me to mutate too. (Laughter.) That is the reason, obviously, why we are here.

At the beginning of my work I too doubted the truth of Mendel's laws. Working at first chiefly on the problem of immunity of plants to infectious diseases, I went to England in order to study in this field under Professor Biffen whose works on the application of Mendelism to immunity were considered classic at that time. However, I came to doubt the Mendelian conclusions of Biffen. In the course of experimental study I became convinced that in many cases physiological properties depend upon many genes, that they cannot be disposed of in terms of simple relationships. But in the course of this work I also became convinced that in many cases simple genetic relations obtained, especially for morphological characters. I satisfied myself of the facts of the Mendelian relationships.

If you assembled a hundred of the most important practical selectionists of Western Europe and America, with great achievements to their credit, beginning with Nilsson-Ehle, Okerman, Rudorf, Romer, and said to them that there is a tendency among us to hold that it is not only necessary to remove Mendel from the list of classics, but also to regard his work as full of harmful generalizations, they would look at you, at the very least, as a very strange person.

I say this in order to show all the depth, all the practical importance of our divergences. All the practical advances connected with the application of hybridization to seeding plants, all the varieties introduced by way of hybridization, were obtained in the last decades by the application of the laws of Mendel. We must consider, of course, that many physiological characters are genetically very complex. We do not always deal with simple relationships. Some simple relationships do exist, for example the black and white color of ears of grain. The relationships are enormously more complicated when we go to physiological characters. If we study such a property as the baking characteristics of flours from different varieties of grain, it is very difficult to deal with it genetically. But even when we work with complex characters we must be guided by the rules established by Mendel, by the theory of polymorphous characters worked out by Nilsson-Ehle.

I go on to the next point. They tell us: "Stop engaging in sex hybridization. Replace sex hybridization by vegetative hybridization. The latter is much simpler."

Lysenko: Who said that and where did he say it?

Vavilov: In recent months I have had the opportunity of visiting a number of selection stations, and have seen how the work on ordinary hybridization was being abandoned, and the workers, especially the young ones, were engaged particularly with grafts.

Voice: At what station?

Vavilov: For example at the Polar Station.

Voice: There they have abandoned it altogether.

Vavilov: Yes, they have stopped occupying themselves with the hybrids of wheat and barley, and changed over to "vegetative hybridization." The only department where sexual hybridization is still applied, is concerned with potatoes.

As a matter of fact, is it not tempting to take the easier path instead of dealing with distributions, with generations, instead of carrying out long calculations and observations? It is simpler that way. Just graft an unstable variety on a stable sort and even on another stable variety, and then go ahead, multiply the scion on which the stock has to act in corresponding fashion.

M. M. Zavadovsky: Each stalk by itself?

Vavilov: Yes, I must say that here and there, this method is proposed.

Lysenko: Who proposes and where? You have not said that.

Vavilov: I said that this is being practiced in a number of stations.

Lysenko: Who proposes it and where?

Vavilov: Obviously, under your influence. It may be that I have misunderstood. If that is so, I should be extremely glad. In any case, it is your influence.

Lysenko: My influence has lasted only a year; yours has lasted more than twenty.

Vavilov: I don't want to speak either of my influence or yours. I have to speak of the modern point of view, supported by enormous Soviet and foreign experience. I consider it my duty to tell of this as a worker who has devoted three decades to plant husbandry. I consider it my duty to describe the situation in order to get a balanced account. What is happening is a serious disagreement not only with Vavilov, but with contemporary developments of biological science.

Prezent: Including Burbank.

Vavilov: Burbank was theoretically weak. I suppose I had better opportunities than others did to study Burbank and his work and his practical achievements. In the field of theory we need not take Burbank into account.

In approaching this question, we must once more keep in mind that we have a great deal of scientific experience in this subject. There are notable works of Winkler, Baur, and in this country, the works of Aseyeva and of Isayev on hydras, notable works which unfortunately are little known, because they were published in full only in English. These works show that even in the special case where the tissues of one form were interlaced with the tissues of another form, where they gave rise to complicated chimaeras, nevertheless the cells of the separate species did not vary their inherited individuality. This is brilliantly shown by experiments. Darwin considered vegetative hybridization to be possible, basing his opinion on some experiments known to him. But we must take into account the time at which these experiments were carried out. Great investigations carried out in the twentieth century have shown that sexual hybridization could not be replaced by vegetative hybridization. The very term of "graft hybrids" has disappeared from scientific literature.

I remember my student years at the Timiryazev Academy, when in a club of scientific amateurs, I had occasion to review Winkler's interesting work entitled "Tale of Gardeners." In this article the history of the study of the so-called graft hybrids was reviewed, which phenomena after all proved to be non-existent.

I am afraid of wearying you. I had occasion to go closely into this question, working on immunity to diseases. There were attempts to vary the immunity by way of "graft hybrids." Unfortunately, they did not give any results.

The physiology of grafts, the action of the scion on the stock and the converse, is another matter. This question evokes great interest. This subject merits investigation. It is possible that new facts of practical importance will be discovered here. We must also take into account the after-effects, including the first sexual generations. In any case, the data of modern experimental physiology do not give us any ground for speaking of the possibility of the equation of sex hybridization to vegetative hybridization.

Let us pass over to the question of hereditary variation. No one among contemporary geneticists and selectionists upholds the unchangeability of the genes. In fact, genetics is the study of the variation of the hereditary nature of organisms. Mutation theory is the basis of genetics, as its history shows. However mistaken were many of the conclusions of De Vries, it is extremely significant that from the very beginning the phenomena of mutation were of the greatest interest to geneticists. As for the cause of mutations, and their production experimentally, that is another matter. It is essential to note that certain of the founders of genetics, for instance, De Vries and Johannsen, were outstanding physiologists. Nevertheless, even these leading physiologists were unable to control the mutation process in their day rowing to experimental difficulties, although this was the primary aim of their experiments. But in contemporary work, it must be admitted that the experimental control of mutation is one of the most important branches of genetics.

The gene, in our opinion, cannot be regarded as absolutely unchangeable, although it remains stable and practically unchangeable over a period of generations. The study of cultivated plants shows that in practice we encounter a definite stability of form. We know that many varieties persist over long periods, sometimes even without further selection or purification. Even Johannsen, the author of the doctrine of pure lines, did not regard them as absolute. He observed the phenomenon of mutation in a series of plants. We may also recall the attitude of selectionists toward this doctrine. Our teacher, Professor Rydzinsky, tried for a number of years to refute the doctrine of Johannsen. In particular, attempts of this kind were made in Germany. Fruwirt, the author of a fundamental guide to selection, for a long time hesitated to accept the doctrine of pure lines among self-pollinators. Consequently, it is noteworthy that in the preface to the new edition of the German handbook under the editorship of the great practical selectionists Rudorf and Romer, published in 1938, they confirm the practical value of the doctrine of Johannsen on the basis of extensive tests of wheat, barley and oats.

I would like to dwell briefly on two matters connected with my own work on evolution in its application to cultivated plants.

Many years ago, on the basis of the study of variation in cultivated plants and of their close wild relatives, I proposed the law of homologous series in hereditary variation which is a development of the position laid down by Darwin in his book Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication. Having noted the phenomena of the most extensive parallelism in evolution within the limits of species among closely related types and species of cultivated plants, we permitted ourselves to generalize them in the form of a law. The number of parallel hereditary divergences of this sort among related and unrelated species, especially among the first, is very great and each year opens up thousands of new facts.

The nature of this homologous variation consists, as I see it, primarily of a kinship of the genetic structure of closely related species and types. Likewise, it is the result of the activity of the environment of selection in a definite direction under definite conditions. In recent years we have observed a large number of instances of parallelism of ecological variation. We are not giving up and cannot give up this conception, for millions of facts attest to the prevalence of these phenomena. To ignore them is sheer blindness. A systematic as well as ecologic geographic study of cultivated plants leads us to recognize the great significance of this class of phenomena, which is not at all contradictory to phenomena of differentiation and divergence of species. These phenomena indicate a definite parallelism in the evolution of types which often possesses great practical significance. On the basis of this law I proceeded in recent years to study physiological characters and learned to find, in predictable regions, analogous forms for which we were searching.

We are accused of attempting to fit the phenomena of variation into some sort of Procrustean bed. This accusation appears to us to have no factual basis. On the contrary, our theories have led us to discover a great number of new forms involving both physiological and morphological characteristics.

On the basis of our researches on the evolution of cultivated plants we have come in our day to the geographical theory of origin, to the notion of original species-forming regions of cultivated plants. We stand on that conception which appears to us to be purely Darwinian, for Darwin himself considered the facts of geographical localization of centers of origin of species as a fundamental biological law, and rye only apply it in relation to cultivated plants.

Summing up the findings on the immense amount of new material, in part still unpublished, we may say that, in actual fact, there are regions in which the process of species formation is particularly developed. The majority of formed species, among them cultivated plants, have not gone beyond the borders of the region of their origin. This is well shown in the case of wheat and rye here in the Caucasus, where recently a large number of endemic species have been discovered.

In developing the teaching of Darwin concerning the centers of origin of species of cultivated plants, we discovered a large number of new species particularly in primary regions. However, we do not wish to imply that species could not arise on the periphery, in secondary localities. On the contrary, we pay a great deal of attention to these secondary localities, and in the case of the most important cultivated plants we were able to establish extremely important secondary regions of species formation of cultivated plants. The authenticity of these findings compels every botanist and zoologist to reckon with the localities of origin and settlements of plant and animal species. Our opponents, while claiming to be consistent Darwinists, are, as it appears to us, in full opposition to Darwin. They try, with very little plausibility, to refute the role of fundamental regions of species formation, in essence a fundamental phase of evolution.

We have, of course, other differences. I have dwelt on the most important. The opposing point of view is in contradiction not only with a group of Soviet geneticists but with all modern biological science. I repeat that I do not know of one manual in genetics and selection which would support the views propounded by the school of Academician Lysenko. A peculiarity of our differences is also that under the name of progressive science it is suggested that we return, in essence, to views which science has outgrown, that is, to views current in the middle of the nineteenth century.

In order to do away with the anomalies which exist in the development of genetic science and the theory of selection in our country, I should like to propose, along with the widely distributed organ Vernalization:

(1) The publication of another organ, which would print genetic works, not merely of a narrowly specialized character which we now print only in abbreviated form, in the News and Reports of the Academy, but also general articles, which could critically report on diverse views including those opposed to the ideas which are currently popular.

(2) That the publishing house prepare and publish translations of the best foreign general works on selection and genetics. We are often obliged to use translated manuals ten years behind the times.

(3) That conferences and sessions be called devoted to questions of genetics and selection, in order that various points of view may be aired.

(4) That since the solution of many disputed questions is attainable only by means of direct experiment, it is necessary to facilitate the fullest experimental work, including, of course, that based on conflicting points of view.

(5) And finally the last thing that I feel it my duty to stress as a scientific worker in the land of the Soviets, is the necessity of the introduction into the practice of selection only of tested and verified scientific experiments, of fully proved results. In order to introduce them into production, we need a scientific, exact test of proposed measures.


IN THE Soviet Union, the importance of science is recognized. Full opportunities for its development are present and, of course, far greater significance is attached to agricultural science here than in capitalistic countries. I need not point out to you that the correctness of agro-biological theory is of no little significance for our socialist agriculture.

I. should be glad if the Mendelians, who have so furiously defended their scientific positions, were objectively correct in science. What reason would there be in that case for not being in accord with their theory of the regularities of development of plant and animal organisms? It would be easier for me in that case, in my capacity as director of the Academy, to render scientific assistance together with the Mendelian geneticists to the organizations on the farms, to give advice on questions of plant and animal husbandry, and create a scientific plan, let us say, for furnishing varieties of winter rye and winter wheat, adapted to the rigorous conditions of Siberia.

On January 6, 1939, the Commissariat of Agriculture of the USSR and the All-Union Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences were commissioned to produce within 2 to 3 years a cold-resistant variety of winter rye for the snowless zone of the open steppes, and, within 3 to 5 years, to furnish a high yield variety of winter wheat, biologically adapted to the sub-taiga and the northern wooded steppe regions of Siberia.

If these varieties are not obtained within the given periods, our economic progress will be interrupted. Who will bear the responsibility for this? I believe, it will not be Mendelism or Darwinism in general, but principally Lysenko as head of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences and as an Academician in the Section of Selection and Plant Husbandry. So that if the Mendelians, mobilising their science, would give even a hint as to how to develop varieties of rye in 2 to 3 years and of wheat in 3 to 5 years, adapted to the rigorous Siberian conditions, is it possible that I would refuse? Of course not. Instead, I should welcome the valued proposal. The three years are not so far off. It is almost a year since the task was assigned.

The great successes of our excellent practice and of Soviet science are colossal, and generally recognized. I shall not speak of them, as it seems to me that the present conference wants to hear from me, principally, why I reject Mendelism, why I do not consider formal Mendelian-Morgan genetics a science. I shall answer these questions with some illustrations.

Take such an important question as seed supply. It is well known that the party and the government have provided all necessary facilities for supplying collective and state farms with new superior varieties, as well as with improved seeds of those varieties which are sown in the regions. Almost every district has its own seed selection stations with extensive experimental fields, and a great number of scientific workers. A government network of agricultural experiment stations has been organized, whose duties include the testing of the value of varieties far the different regions of the Union. There are many zonal and branch scientific experimental institutes, district experimental stations for plant and animal husbandry. There is the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, as well as the biological sections and institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the Academies of Sciences of the Ukrainian and Byelo-Russian Republics. These institutions are intended to promote the rapid development and utilization of agrobiological science in socialist agriculture.

It is well known that one of the basic responsibilities of the selection stations (in addition to the introduction of new varieties) is the annual production of elite seeds of those varieties of grain which are sown in the particular district served by the selection station. An elite strain from the selection stations goes into commercial seed production, where it is multiplied and thence passes into the seed divisions of the collective farms.

How is it to be explained that elite seeds of wheat, barley, oats, and some other cultures have not been compared by any one, not even by the selection stations, with the ordinary good pure strains of the same varieties, with respect to yield, or other commercially important qualities? And yet without comparison there can be no attempt to improve the seed. Can this be explained merely by the carelessness of the men of science? I hardly think so. In the division devoted to seed supply the scientific men work hard. One or two might forget, but some one would ask the question: is the seed of the elite strain, say of the Ukrainka winter wheat, better or the same as the ordinary seeds of the same Ukrainka?

Among the millions of bushels of Ukrainka harvested every year there may be some thousands of bushels of seed better than the standard Ukrainka seed which might be issued as an elite strain by some selection institute. But as elite strains of seed have not been compared as to their native qualities with other seeds of the same variety, the possibility has not even been considered.

For people who are slightly acquainted with Mendelism, with formal genetics, it is obvious that elite strains of seed are called elite just because they are better than other pure strain seeds of the variety found in the collective farms. It was to be expected that sowing elite strains should give higher yields or that the winter shoots of these seeds ought to be more resistant to winter hardships, and so forth. However, according to Mendel-Morgan genetics, which unfortunately still continues to be taught by Mendelians in our higher institutions of learning, any seeds of self-pollinating plants within the limits of a single variety are alike with respect to their inheritance (genotype), regardless of the conditions of cultivation. The Mendelian-Morganists assert that the nature of the plant does not depend on agro-techniques. According to this pseudo-science, good agro-techniques cannot improve and bad cannot deteriorate the nature of the plant. And here is the reason why elite strains of seed are not sown by selection stations for purposes of comparison with ordinary seeds of the same variety. The very posing of the question as to the necessity of a comparison, if only to find a way to improve the seed, was considered and is considered unscientific, illiterate, by the Mendelians.

To us, followers of Michurin, it is clear that seeds of one and the same variety can be by their nature (genotype) better or worse. The nature of plants and animals can be improved or deteriorated. Hence, one of the basic tasks of the local selection stations is to do everything needed to improve, from year to year, the variety from which the elite seed is taken.

Our Soviet Darwinian agro-biological science must work out the scientific bases for the improvement of seed. This is indispensable in order that the elite strains of various cultures produced each year by the selection stations may be better compared to the seeds which they are destined to replace.

A second example: The Mendelians have continually blamed us (and still do), for not appreciating the teachings of Johannsen, and for taking a critical attitude toward this "classic" of biological science. We do not dispute with Johannsen, but with his present day followers. The same, naturally, with Mendel, Why should we disturb him who has departed and is at rest? But with his followers, with those who develop the conceptions of Mendel, we not only dispute, but we reject all their fantasies, because they interfere both with science and with practice.

As a matter of fact, why did we start to raise objections to the Johannsenists? Because the followers of Johannsen-Mendelian-Morganists-forbade by their theory such a practically proved method of improving plant varieties as beneficial selection.

For example, many agronomists and farmers know the spring wheat variety Liuteszens-062. This variety was initiated in 1911 at the Saratov selection station by means of selection of ears of the spring wheat Poltavka. The descendants of the selected ears were sown separately in order to determine which of them was the best. The descendants of one of the ears selected in 1911, having proved the best in the judgment of the selectors as the result of various tests, was called Liuteszens-062.

According to Johannsen's theory of pure lines, as our Mendelians understand it, any further selection of Liuteszens-062 and comparison with the original variety is not necessary. Selection within a so-called pure line, as Johannsen asserted, is ineffectual. But who will believe that the billions of plants of the Liuteszens-062 grown on millions of acres in various regions of the Union in the course of 20 years have not changed, but have remained the same? Who will believe that it is undesirable and unscientific to carry out a selection within such sowings? But a selection has not been carried out. Consequently, for over a period of 20 years, no new improved variety has been produced by means of selection from Liuteszens-062, as was done, e.g., in 1911 by selection from Poltavka.

The Mendelians assert that thanks to the theory of Johannsen individual selection began to be carried out on a wide scale. As a matter of fact, on account of the Johannsenists, beneficial selection in the practice of our selection work was, as a rule, discontinued on collective and state farms. This is why I disputed with Johannsen; not because I don't like Johannsen personally, but because the Mendelians support his theory, and propagandize for it in our advanced courses; and this has resulted in discontinuance of frequent selection and of year to year improvement.

Reflecting on this problem, experimenting, reading not only Mendelians and Morganists, but other authors as well, whose theories contradict the bases of Mendelism-Morganism, for instance such classics as Darwin, Timiryazev, Michurin, Burbank, and others, we came to the conclusion that there can not be pure strains in the absolute sense.

Plants change as a result of the conditions of life, and if plants differ, that signifies for us the value of selecting the best seeds in any generation as ancestors of a new strain. In this way also we came to understand the law discovered by Darwin of the biological usefulness of cross-pollination and the harmfulness of prolonged self-pollination of plants.

I shall not dwell on the work in intra-variety crossing of wheat. I say merely that if this question is approached not formally, but from the position of the theory of development, from the position of Darwinism, intra-variety crossing becomes one of the means of improving the seeds of grain.

In the course of our study of the biology of fertilization in plants, the question arose whether there was any scientific foundation to the requirement of an isolating zone one kilometer wide separating the bed of one kind of rye from the bed of another kind.

Working with seeds of self-pollinating plants (wheat, oats, barley) Mendelian theory insisted only on one thing: that the workers in sowing avoid admixture. To improve a variety by means of good cultivation and repeated beneficial selections was even regarded as illiterate by this theory. In production of rye seed on the basis of this same incorrect Mendelian science, all the attention was directed to only one thing: one variety of rye must be sown at a distance of not less than a kilometer from any other. If a planting of one variety of rye was for one reason or another less than a kilometer from a planting of another variety, then, in accordance with the instructions, the seed of both plantings was condemned and sent to the mill.

A biologist, naturally, should have kept in mind that in nature two varieties of cross-pollinating plants grow side by side, not a kilometer apart (e.g., varieties with white and red flowers). We need not think, of course, that in nature cross-pollination occurs rarely. Cross-pollination is more widespread in nature than self-pollination, and yet wild cross-pollinating plants preserve themselves fairly well in relative purity.

Starting from this and analogous examples, and also on the basis of experimental data we came to the conclusion that in the seed production of certain cross-pollinating plants it was unnecessary to separate the beds by much space to guarantee the impossibility of the cross-pollination of two varieties. In all the cases where the biological adaptive properties of the plant coincide with economic requirements, considerable isolation in space is not necessary (e.g., for rye, clover, alfalfa). For those plants whose biological adaptive properties do not coincide with economic requirements, isolation in space is necessary (e.g., for various sorts of beets, cabbage, carrots, and a series of other cross-pollinating cultures).

In discussing the needleseless of the kilometer zone of isolation for planting of varieties of rye at a conference of the Commissariat of Agriculture of the USSR, the following interesting point was made. Experiments instituted by Academician N. V. Rudnitzky showed that the pollen of rye is carried by the wind in fairly significant quantities, not for one kilometer, but for much greater distances. As the experiments showed, this pollen does not lose its activity; its quantity is sufficient to fertilize other plantings. This means that if the varieties of rye are conserved and do not generate into a single variety, it is not because a kilometer zone of isolation is observed (as the Mendelians believe), but as a consequence of other biological causes. From their position, the Mendelians cannot understand the biological regularities, because not biological, but statistical regularities, lie at the basis of Mendelism.

As is known, the new instructions of the Commissariat of Agriculture of the USSR replace the one kilometer zone of isolation of rye by a 200 meter zone thoroughly acceptable to practical farmers. This zone of isolation is sufficient to prevent mechanical mixing of varieties.

Experiments instituted by us in the autumn of 1938 to ascertain whether the seeds of rye are deteriorated by non-observance of isolation in space, showed that not one well founded case of deterioration of rye seed through non-observance of isolation in space could be found. These experiments were carried out by comrade A. A. Avakyan at the experimental base of the All-Union Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences in the Lenin Hills. A series of experiments were undertaken also by leading government groups for testing varieties.

At present virtually no one raises a doubt as to the correctness of replacing the kilometer zone of isolation for planting of rye varieties by a two hundred meter zone, for in this question the Mendelians have been compelled to admit they were wrong. The trouble is only that, having in part recognized their errors, they still defend the false bases of their science, from which emanate the consequences undesirable in practice which I have discussed above.

I shall say a few words on the method of inbreeding. Some Mendelians declare: "Here, as a result of the attacks of Lysenko, Prezent and others, the selection stations have ceased work by the method of inbreeding, while in America, judging by some articles, many hybrid inbred varieties of corn have been obtained."

In the first place, we have never objected to breeding of related animals and plants with a view to selection. We objected to the incorrect method of inbreeding," to the cross-breeding of closely related plants and animals. In my articles I continually adduced examples, described experiments which showed how in accordance with Darwinism it was necessary to make use of related breeding.

To the Mendelians who point to America, I should like to say the following. Since 1935, that is, since the time I first pronounced the word of "inbreeding," only four years have passed, but previously, for a period of 10 to 15 to 20 years almost every selection station, working with cross-pollinating plants in accordance with your scientific instructions, used the inbreeding method on a large scale. Where are the results? Where is even one variety produced by this method? The Mendelians forget this, first of all Academician N. I. Vavilov.

Let us take up another example of our "attacks" on "classical genetics." The question is the so-called 3:l relation. Why did I begin to deny one of the cornerstones of Mendelism, namely, the distribution of hybrid descendants in the relation (3:1)" Those Mendelians are correct (e.g., Acad. A. S. Serebrovsky and others) who asserted that the basis of Mendelism is (3:1)". If actually the obligation in nature for the "distribution" of the proportion (3:1)" does not exist, then objective existence cannot be accorded to the other Mendelian laws following from (3:1)". Only in this way can it be explained why our denial of the "law" of distribution of hybrid descendants (3:1)" as a biological regularity, evoked a storm of displeasure among the ideologists of Mendelism. The existence of the relation 3:1, obtained, as is well known to Mendelians, from the formula 1:2:1, as a mean statistical quantity, we have not denied and do not deny it. We merely say, that this regularity is statistical, not biological.

It is necessary, if only in a word, to explain the meaning of (3:1)". According to the doctrine of the Mendelians, this signifies that the offspring of any hybrid (just think of it: any hybrid!) of all plants and all animals must of necessity vary according to one and the same pattern, independent of the variety and genus of the animal or plant, of the conditions of life, or of any other possible influences. Always and everywhere it will be (3:1)". All the difference is merely in the degree n. On the basis of such a theory, man is unable to direct the "distribution" of the offspring of hybrid plants.

In all my work of scientific investigation, this is, so far, the only case in which I declared in print without any experiment that it was impossible that this "magic spell," 3:1, was observed everywhere and always in the animal and vegetable kingdom. Having thought through this question, I declared that it was not only impossible that the offspring of hybrids of various species and genera should be distributed according to one and the same scheme, but that it was also impossible that different offspring of hybrid plants of the same combination should vary in a uniform manner and degree.

How the Mendelians raged at this! They declared that Lysenko and all who agreed with him were illiterate, even more, that Lysenko was a man, who, in the face of numerous facts staring him in the face, without any foundation attacked Mendelism. And what do you think? They said that the data supporting the "distribution" by families in the proportion of 3:1 was infinite in amount. But at a test it proved that no one had such data, although as president of the Academy I asked for such material from Mendelians working in the Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

We deny the assertion that the offspring of hybrids of the same combination must vary according to one measure and degree. Let us assume that two individuals are crossed, say two fishes, and hybrids are obtained. Let us say, a hundred hybrids. All these hybrids have one father and one mother. Now it is necessary to show, in order to verify the Mendelian claims, that the offspring of these hybrids, each pair apart, must vary in a uniform measure and degree, and secondly that the variation of the offspring (of each pair of hybrid fish) will be uniform, will not depend on the condition of life (upbringing) of the hybrid parents. That is what it would be necessary to show. But Comrade Kirpichnikov has told us: fish are such a good object, for in one family one can have as many as 100,000 offspring, and these offspring vary in the proportion of 3:1. Comrade Kirpichnikov said that in other combinations he got 2:1. But he did not say a word about how many families there were of one and the same combination, and what was the variation in various families of one and the same combination. On that he was silent.

Voice from the audience: Not so, not so.

Lysenko: I would be glad to hear and change my opinion, if I were shown that, let us say, with fish in hybrid offspring, by families, in different circumstances there obtained one and the same variation, After I ventured to make a public denial of the existence of (3:1)" as a biological regularity, quite a number of experiments on this question were instituted in the All-Union selection-genetic institute (Odessa) and the experimental station of the Academy (Lenin Hills) by Comrades Avakyan, Yermolaev, and others. As a result of these experiments and others I am more fully convinced that not only is there a different "distribution" of offspring of different hybrid plants of one and the same combination, but in some cases hybrids are obtained which give offspring invariant in practice, i.e., not "distributed." The practical significance of recognizing or not recognizing (3:1)" as a biological regularity may be inconceivable to some. To us who are Darwinists, and I imagine to the Mendelians too, it is very clear, that whether a man recognizes it or not will make a big difference in his practical work of selection. The recognition of (3:1)", the recognition of a uniform measure and degree of variation of all hybrid offspring in this or that combination, led to a situation where people simply paid no attention to the conditions of growth of the first generation of hybrids. No matter under what conditions the different hybrid plants of the first generation of one and the same combination were placed, the seeds would be uniformly distributed; as K. A. Timiryazev said in his time, mocking the Mendelians: three for papa, one for mama, or vice versa: three for mama, one for papa.

Further. If the offspring of all hybrid plants varies according to a uniform measure and degree, then why choose, thresh, and then sow the offspring of each hybrid plant separately It is easier to mix them all, thresh them all together and sow them all together. At the vast majority of selection stations that is what was done. They took all the plants of the first generation (of the same combination), threshed them together and sowed the mixture obtained. Then from this artificially, mechanically made mixture they fished out (calling it selection), at best in the second generation, usually in the third or fourth generation, single plants and then sowed their offspring separately.

If we do not recognize it as fatal predestination that the offspring of hybrid plants of one and the same combination must vary in a single measure and degree, then the selector must act quite differently. He must take care that by creating suitable conditions of growth (in the Michurin way) he directs the development of the hybrid plants in the desired direction. For plantings of the following generations he must choose the best individuals included among the plants of the first hybrid generation. Other propositions, practically important and diametrically opposite, follow according to whether we recognize or do not recognize (3:1)".

Acad, N. I. Vavilov has frequently said to me, that in the literature there is as much material as you want to support the existence of the distribution by families in the proportion (3:1) ".

To finish up this examination of the unfortunate relation 3:1, I may say that one Mendelian tried in print to make a factual support of the existence of 3:1, but it was not altogether successful, and so far he is the only one.

At this conference we have frequently heard from the Mendelians that it is impossible to improve the breed (genotype) of a variety by agro-technical means. At the same time a group of comrades who share the views of Mendelism have maintained in informal discussions that no Mendelian denies the necessity of the application of sound agro-techniques, the application of fertilizer, etc., on seed plots. They have already forgotten that N. I. Vavilov declared from this very platform that "world" genetic science' does not recognize the possibility of changing, improving the breed of seed by means of agro-techniques, just as he does not recognize the possibility of improving the breed, e.g., of horned cattle by means of good care and food. Has N. I. Vavilov too forgotten this?

We deny that the quality of the breed (genotype) does not depend on the conditions of life. We maintain that on the seed plots of farms and selection stations it is necessary always to apply the best possible agro-technique, since that not only increases the yield of seed per unit of area, but, most important, it improves the breed of these seeds. On the logic of Mendelism, it makes no difference whether there be good or bad agro-technique.

Voice: Not so, the quality is improved but not the nature.

Lysenko: Mendelism asserts that no matter how pedigreed cattle are kept, their breed will be no better and no worse than it was.

This example shows anew that our Mendelians no longer say in what the essence of their science consists, they try either to be silent as to the concrete consequences which follow from their theory, or they reduce the dispute to trifles. It is especially current among them now to declare that they are being oppressed, restrained, that Mendelism-Morganism is not being allowed to develop. In point of fact, all the oppression of Mendelism can be expressed in the proverb, "The bear claws the cow, but roars himself." (Laughter.)

But let us return to the question of the role of Mendelism in the solution of the practical-questions of agriculture.

Certain Mendelians, in particular Acad. N. I. Vavilov, made the following statement here: at any rate, the varieties grown on millions of acres in our Union were introduced on the basis of Mendelism. Even some of the selectors, the authors of these varieties, may declare that they share in agro-biological science the views of Mendelism.

How do matters stand in point of fact? Can it be that Lysenko, Prezent, Avakyan and others are unfair to Mendelian genetics? Let us settle this question too.

Acad. N. I. Vavilov and a series of other proponents of Mendelism have been repeating that all selective practice the world over has used and is using Mendelian genetics in its work. Such asseverations have an effect on certain comrades who take them at face value. But let us hear what these same Mendelians said on this very question some years back, when they were not engaged in controversy with the followers of Michurin's theory, when Mendelism, so to speak, "flowered" luxuriantly in our land and when the Mendelians had more opportunities than they now have of breaking, of hindering the development of Michurin's theory. Here is what one of the leading Mendelians wrote on the question whether selectors here and abroad used and use Mendelian genetics. I shall not give the name of the author yet, make your own guesses and compare these assertions of his with what he says now.

"It must be said definitely that the work of selection in our land as well as abroad was characterized in the past and is characterized by a divorce from genetics. The vast materials on practical selection, as a rule, are not worked over genetically at all and disappear without a trace into the archives. Very often we have no documentary data at all on the derivation of varieties."[4]

"Frequently selectors, even consciously, reject genetic interpretation of their materials. This divorce of genetics from selection is especially characteristic of Western European selectors, but occurs also in Canada and in the United States as well, where selection is in the main concentrated in the hands of seed firms."[5]

But N. I. Vavilov, as you heard, especially emphasized here that in Western Europe and in the United States all the work is done in terms of the Mendelian theory.

Further: "When you visit important selection centers abroad, you often hear from selectors that genetics is entirely another matter, we have nothing to do with that, we never read genetic books, we carry on the work of selection, we do it by intuition, by our own methods, we get something from you once in a while, but between you and me, there is a great gulf."[6]

What is your opinion: do these assertions resemble what N. I. Vavilov said in the last year or two and is still saying? Here is what the same N. I. Vavilov said not so long ago at a genetic conference called under his chairmanship. The resolutions of this conference say:

"The divorce of genetics from practical selection which characterizes the work of investigators in the United States, England and other countries must be resolutely removed from the genetic investigations in the USSR."[7]

Voice: Right.

Lysenko: Who says that is wrong? You Mendelians said from this platform that the varieties we have were derived on the basis of your Mendelian genetics.

Acad. A. S. Serebrovsky yesterday, and today too, said that in any case the breeds of animals were derived on the basis of Mendelism. He considered even Acad. M. F. Ivanov a Mendelian. But this is what A. S. Serebrovsky wrote in 1932 in the Proceedings of the same conference:

"The character of the subject matter greatly influences the selection of problems and we have extraordinarily richly worked-out chapters of genetics, closely connected, e. g. with Drosophila, and complete lack of elaboration of such chapters as would have especial importance for our agricultural economy."

" ... It is possible, for example, to take the good manual of Prof. Davidov The Selection of Milch Cattle, in which there is judiciously collected all the scientific material in the field of selection and attempts are made at systematic exposition of the science of selection, standing on the level of our present knowledge."

"And what do we see? We see, summing up, that we have scraps, shavings of knowledge, which after all can not often be directly applied to our practical work."

"And at the same time, in order really to organize selection, in order to be master in the genetics of large horned cattle, we need to know a hundred times more, and to know things to which at present little attention is given. Almost everything has to be begun from the beginning."

And, comrades, when they ask what part of Mendelism to keep, in order that the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Science may successfully carry on scientific work in animal breeding and seed production, I always answer: almost nothing.

I read to you the assertions of Acad. N. I. Vavilov on seed production and of Acad. A. S. Serebrovsky, who was the leader of the science of breeding. Both with especial clarity declared (and this was not so long ago) that Mendelian genetics has no relation whatsoever to the derivation either of varieties of plants or of breeds of cattle. Now however N. I. Vavilov and A. S. Serebrovsky assert the diametrically opposite and thereby prevent an objective and correct examination of the essence of Mendelism.

The impression prevails among some comrades that, although the theory of Michurin is moving forward rapidly in our country, although ten and hundreds of thousands are occupied with this theory (and this is actually so), nevertheless there are more people who hold Mendelian views. In the work already cited it is shown that when the conference was held in 1932, there were 33 specialists in general genetics and 86 in special genetics. That is how many Mendelian geneticists there were in 1952. But perhaps, the number of Mendelian specialists has greatly increased since 1932? The plan of this same conference envisaged by the end of 1937, 113 specialists in general genetics and 259 in special. But I am convinced that this plan too was not fulfilled, inasmuch as the theory of Michurin, his methods of work, are growing and are enveloping the Mendelian ranks too. That is what is crushing Mendelism! The Michurin theory is crushing it! It kidnaps the adherents of Mendelism, who go over into the ranks of the anti-Mendelians. The Mendelian geneticists, silent about their fundamental differences with the theory of evolution, with the teaching of Michurin, with the facts of practical life, put all the blame for the crisis of their theory on criticism from the side of the Dawinists-Michurinists. And in the addresses at this conference it was possible to hear that the divergence between Mendelian and Michurin genetics is not due to a difference of principle between these two scientific tendencies, but to an "unsound" criticism of Mendelism.

Genetics is an interesting and practically important part of agrobiology. It is the science of the regularities of inheritance and variation of plant and animal organisms. The more, and the more truly, we discover these laws, i.e., the better we master in practice the development of the organism, the more quickly and radically we will be able to improve and to adapt living nature, the varieties of plants, the breeds of animals, to the demands of our socialist land.

I do not know of any biologist who has so deeply penetrated the laws of inheritance and variation of plant organisms as I. V. Michurin. He found practical solutions to some of the deepest questions of theory. By this step he got a splendid confirmation of his theoretical assertions. It would be the grossest error to deplore that I. V. Michurin gave us, the Soviet land, only hundreds of good varieties, but not his theory, not the method of their derivation. Michurin wrote many excellent substantial works, which are in constant demand in our country. It is with these works that we must approach that science which is called genetics. The work of the Stakhanovites in animal husbandry, and the experiments of scientific workers disclose the inaccurate basis of Mendelism-Morganism. Moreover it is not a secret even to the representatives of Mendelism-Morganism that if vegetative hybrids are possible, then the only thing left of the so-called Morgan chromosome theory of inheritance is the chromosomes, and the entire theory of Morganism falls to the ground.

Darwin had called attention to the deep significance of vegetative hybrids, showing that when this field was developed then sooner or later we would have a different understanding of the sex process too. It is understandable why the Morganist geneticists did all they could to show the impossibility of vegetative hybridization, and denied the essence of Michurin's theory of the action of mentors.

I. V. Michurin gave us many splendid varieties, in the process of deriving which he used the method, worked out by him, of the mentor. At the top of a tree of the young variety he grafted a shoot of another variety so that by the action of the grafted branch of another nature he might change the nature of the young variety in the desired direction.

The Morgan geneticists were able in their time to hush up this matter, as they put it, to declare that it was scientifically unproved, an error, etc. Only a few years ago I was a witness as such scientists as Acad. A. S. Serebrovsky and others declared from the platform that the theory of I. V. Michurin on mentors and vegetative hybrids was a fancy based on errors.

Again A. S. Serebrovsky recently declared that the "Northern Beauty" (an excellent variety of cherry of Michurin's) never had white fruit. However, I. V. Michurin wrote that he obtained a hybrid with white fruit from two varieties of cherry (vishnya and chereshyna). The bush of the young sapling failed at its roots, nut it is known from the works of I. V. Michurin that cuttings of this young sapling which had not yet established its breed were grafted to a cherry stock (vishnya). When the grafted tree bore fruit, it appeared that the fruit had received a red shade from the stock. This is the variety "Northern Beauty"--with red fruit.

Formal geneticists, believing that the heredity of the organism is due to a special discrete object located in the chromosomes, naturally cannot accept vegetative hybrids if only for the reason that chromosomes from the stock cannot go over into the scion. To grant that heredity, i.e., the capacity of organisms to resemble their ancestors and parents is not some special substance, but a property of any living cell, any living particle from which the organism develops, is an impossibility for the Morganists, inasmuch as thereafter there would be nothing left of their theory.

It became particularly difficult for the Morganists and Mendelians then, when it was not longer possible to deny vegetative hybrids when this matter had broken out on a broad front, because many hundreds of experimenters had become engaged in this deeply theoretical question. Vegetative hybrids came pouring out as from a cornucopia. Then the Mendelians took alarm and began to cry suppression. But as a matter of fact it was not suppression of the Mendelians, but something quite different.

The essential point is that when vegetative hybrids began to be accepted by many scientists and experimenters in various regions of our country, it became much more difficult for the Mendelian geneticists to be silent about the basis of the Michurin theory. In the chairs of the higher institutions of learning and in the institutes of the academies it became harder for the Mendelians to "suppress" the Michurin theory, to borrow one of their expressions. In point of fact, the Mendelians cannot adduce one confirmed instance of suppression of their work, even in the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Science.

It would be possible at this conference to adduce many results of experiments with vegetative hybrids, carried out by scientists and experimenters in the most diverse regions of our land, in the Frunze region of Moscow, in the Institute of Potato Husbandry near Moscow, in the All-Union Selection-Genetic Institute (Odessa), at the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Science, Lenin Hills, at the All-Union Institute of Plant Husbandry (whose director is Acad. N. I. Vavilov) and many others.

From the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Science I took a part of the exhibits of vegetative hybrids, in order to demonstrate them here. Not all of these hybrids were obtained by me, many not even under my immediate direction. Each scientific worker, aspirant or experimenter obtained them independently, in divers regions of the USSR, but the process was a single one.

I proceed to demonstrate exhibits of vegetative hybrids obtained this year by various experimenters.

The "Humbert" tomato is well known. It is well known that the fruits of this variety are not round but elongated. Ordinarily they go to the canning industry. Cuttings of young plants of the "Humbert" variety were grafted on plants of another sort of tomato, "Ficarazzi," which is an early tomato, whose fruits are markedly different from those of "Humbert," being of round form and strongly ribbed. In the given experiment the part above ground, what is called the top of the plant, was of the nature of "Humbert," but the under part-the roots and a part (10-15 cm.) of the steam--had the nature of "Ficarazzi."

The seeds gathered from the graft of "Humbert" were sown, and in this way the seed generation was obtained. From these seeds there grew plants giving fruit which in some cases were not all similar to the fruit of "Humbert." There were some plants, e.g., whose fruit had a perfectly round form, but at the same time were not ribbed but smooth, like "Humbert." Plants were also obtained giving fruit whose upper part was round, but the very base, near the fruit stalk, resembled in form the fruit of "Humbert." On some plants the fruits strongly resembled the fruit of "Humbert." Finally, on some plants the fruit have a different form. Indeed, on one and the same cluster there were fruits almost entirely like the fruit of "Humbert," and other fruit almost entirely like that of "Ficarazzi." There were also fruits representing various intermediate stages between the two extremes.

In this case, accordingly, there could be observed on the specimens shown by me not only alterations of the breed of the tomato "Humbert" by the action of the graft of "Ficarazzi," but there were clearly to be seen in the seed offspring characters of both breeds of the two components which had been united by grafting. I believe that there is every ground for calling these plants, grown from seed, hybrids obtained by vegetative means.

This work was carried on by comrade Kovalevskaya, a collaborator of the All-Union Selection-Genetic Institute (Odessa).

Here is another example from the work of Comrade Alexeeva. She grafted the "Ponderosa" tomato, which has large round fruit, on the perennial nightshade "Dulcamara." Seeds obtained from the grafts were sown and at the same time seeds of the pure strains were sown as controls. From her experiment I took, as an exhibit for the Academy, what I considered the most interesting--a vegetative hybrid of "Ponderosa" with "Dulcamara." Casts of these fruits are in my possession. On isolated plants fruits were obtained reminding one of the form of "Dulcamara." Instead of the large round fruit of "Ponderosa" fruits were obtained not larger than those of "Humbert," elongated as with "Dulcamara," but in clusters, so far as I remember, of about 90 fruits. Never in any variety of tomato, have I seen such clusters with such quantities of fruits. The form of the fruit differed from that of "Ponderosa," but greatly resembled the fruit of "Dulcamara," i.e. the former stock. In the experiments of comrade Alexeeva it was easy for me to observe further that on one end of the same plant there were frequently fruits of differing form.

In general this example too indicated that the plants obtained by comrade Alexeeva from seeds are similar as it were to sexual hybrids. The plants referred to had fruits reminiscent of the form of the former stock. Moreover, comrade Alexeeva obtained many plants diverging from the original varieties taken to be grafted.

I can exhibit also casts of vegetative hybrids obtained by comrade Avakyan at the All-Union Selection-Genetics Institute (Odessa). A semi-wild variety of tomato, "Mexican Red," was grafted on the tomato "Thunder Rose." On the scion, i.e., on "Mexican Red," fruits appeared quite unlike the fruits of that variety. Instead of two-chambered fruits, four-chambered and even twelve-chambered fruits were obtained. It is true, that comrade Avakyan has not yet succeeded in obtaining seed offspring from these grafts.

I show some further casts which describe how the form of fruits, under vegetative hybridization, may be communicated from one component to the other. Comrade Kovalevskaya at the same All-Union Selection-Genetics Institute grafted "Humbert" to the Bulgarian sweet pepper. Seed from the graft of "Humbert" were sown. In some plants of this sowing, fruits appeared strongly reminiscent in form to sweet peppers.

It is also interesting to mention here that plants--vegetative hybrids--are obtained which are unstable in their nature, which vary. The same thing occurs as with sexual hybrids, where a difference of characters is found not only as between different individuals, but also within the same plant.

I believe it will not be a great error, if I say that vegetative hybrids are hybrids obtained by means of special nutrition. After all, what is a graft? A slip of one breed is grafted to another breed, an interchange of saps takes place, of plastic substances secreted by these two stocks. The body both of stock and of scion is built of substances unusual for the given breed and thus the properties of the cells of the scion and the stock are obtained in various cases in varying degrees, different from the type, the breed.

I believe that in recent times the Mendelian geneticists may easily grant that in cases of grafting inheritable alterations may be obtained, but so far they do not grant that these alterations have the hybrid character. They do not want to recognize that in the organisms obtained in this way it is frequently possible to discover some of the properties of both breeds, that is, the properties of the plants which in the previous generation were united by grafting. It is understandable that the Mendelian-Morganists cannot agree with this position, without breaking with their basic theory--the so-called chromosome theory of heredity. If we agree that heredity, as they say, is found only in the chromosomes, then how are we to explain the facts of the transmission by means of the interchange of nutritive plastic substances between the grafted components?

I emphasize that the facts of the transmission of characters and properties of plants by means of vegetative hybridization is no longer a rarity in the Soviet Union. I have exhibited to you the transmission of forms, of color and of the number of chambers in fruit. It would be possible to point out also that Michurin has given not a few examples of the transmission of the length of the vegetative period. Thus he made a breed of apples with early ripening fruits into a winter variety by means of a mentor, i. e. by vegetative hybridization.

I believe that it is possible to unite into one breed characters and properties of two breeds in a vegetative way, as well as by sexual hybridization. With this view of the phenomena of heredity, it is naturally impossible to agree with the theory of Mendelism-Morganism . If this theory is uncritically accepted, one must deny the possibility of the existence of vegetative hybrids, and that is what the Mendelian-Morganists do. But naturally those who have seen vegetative hybrids, have obtained them themselves and know how to obtain them, will take a different view. If one understands even in a general way how vegetative hybrids are obtained, it is not hard to imagine in what way the heredity of organisms changes with suitable environment, with suitable nutrition of the plant. The means of feeding and the quality of the food play a colossal role in altering the heredity of plants and animals. Not in vain did Acad. M. F. Ivanov place at the head of one of his articles the saying of English stockbreeders: "The breed goes through the mouth."

From the factual materials at hand it is clear to us that to alter the breed, to combine the hereditary qualities of two different breeds, is possible even without the "passing-over" of the chromosomes of these breeds, i. e. without the immediate transmission of chromosomes from one breed to another. For in vegetative hybridization, as I have said, the chromosomes do not "go" from stock to scion or vice versa, but the properties of heredity can be transmitted as well by means of the interchange of plastic substances.

Mitin: But to know these chromosomes, generally speaking, is not a bad thing.

Lysenko: When have I said or written that it is not necessary to study the membrane of the cell or the chromosomes? Who of us has said that it is not necessary to study the chromosomes? But I cannot, while speaking on one subject, speak of another as well. Concerning chromosomes, I will say merely that any hereditary properties can be transmitted from one breed to another even without the immediate transmission of chromosomes.

No one of us has said or says that the chromosomes do not play a great biological role in heredity. But Morganism-Mendelism forbade studying the biological role of chromosomes. They transformed cytology into cyto-genetics, i. e. instead of studying the cell as such, the Morganists reduced everything to the count and the morphology of the chromosomes alone. The study of the biological role and significance of the chromosomes is a most necessary matter, and as president of the V. I. Lenin Academy of Agricultural Science I am bound to aid it in every way. And it is only on my initiative that the cytologist, comrade Chernoyarov, appeared and spoke at this meeting. For a long time he has been struggling against cyto-genetics, which diverts a science from a genuinely biological understanding and study of the, cell and its constituent parts.

In conclusion, I may say the following: It is in vain that the Mendelian comrades declare that we preach the end of genetics. For our socialist practice, for our agricultural science, and especially important for such an institution as the V. I. Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences, genetics is necessary, and we fight for its development. One has to be naive to think that the genius of biology, I. V. Michurin, recognized by the party and the government, and the country, would not take from Mendelism all that had to be taken for the production of varieties. What Michurin gave in his splendid works, he took from various sources, and above all from his own practical labors.

I am willing to take from Mendelism all that I. V. Michurin took from it. But he, so far as I understand the essence of his theory, took nothing at all from Mendelism. One has to know how to choose authorities in science. Only that theory which helps you in practical solution of problems undertaken or assigned, earns the right to scientific labors. Mendelism and Morganism not only have not helped, but have frequently hindered. That is why for me the theory of Michurin is a colossal authority in agro-biology, while the theory of Mendel and Morgan on the other hand I can only call false.

At the present conference comrade Zhebrak spoke of the hybrids he has obtained between "Timofeevka" wheat and "Durum" wheat. Let people who do not recognize Mendelism-Morganism obtain such hybrids in other ways, he said. My answer is that the obtaining of these hybrids, whose practical value only the future will tell, has no relation whatever with Mendelism-Morganism . Besides, in what does comrade Zhebrak's result in obtaining of hybrids between varieties differ from the result of the work of comrade Philippov, a young scientific worker of the Institute of Potato Husbandry?

As is known, the wild form of potato "Acaule" is extremely difficult to cross with domesticated sorts, belonging to a different species. Previously in our Union hybrids between these forms of potato were obtained only once (in the Institute of Potato Husbandry). These hybrids however were almost totally wild, despite the fact that they were repeatedly crossed with domesticated varieties and in ordinary field conditions did not give tubers.

Comrade Philippov attacked this problem in a Michurin way, and easily and simply removed the existing obstacles. In a vegetative way, by means of grafts, he brought together these two genetically distant 'breeds, When flowers developed on the slip of "Acaule," he crossed it with a domesticated sort. The domesticated stock had such an influence on the slip of "Acaule," that the cross took place easily enough. From the seeds of this cross some plants were obtained, which, in many ways resembled the domesticated sort of potato and yet had some characters of "Acaule." Some of these plants, under ordinary field conditions in 1939, gave not a had yield of tubers. This work of comrade Philippov, whose practical significance can be determined only in the future, differs in literally nothing, so far as theoretical difficulties are concerned, from what comrade Zhebrak reported on here. The approach of these two scientists is completely different.

Comrade Philippov chose the reasonable path, the true one, worked out by I. V. Michurin and often tested by him. The path which comrade Zhebrak is taking is an accidental path, soon forgotten, which receives great attention only now because the Mendelians and Morganists need something to cling to in order to defend their invalid science. Things have gone so far that the whole theory of Mendelism-Morganism is frequently reduced by some Mendelians to colchicine. Now this colchicine (a strongly poisonous substance) has no relation whatever with the direction of this theory. They identify the multiplication of the number of chromosomes in the cells with the action of colchicine. There is no doubt that plants will change if the number of chromosomes in the cells is increased or diminished. But it would be wrong to think that any duplication of the number of chromosomes in the cells will always lead to the same results.

The diminution or increase of the number of chromosomes in the cells of plants takes place often enough in the most diverse circumstances. In various cells, under various conditions, a uniform increase in the number of chromosomes will give of course diverse results. But it is a mistake to regard poison-colchicine, under the action of which the plant cells develop abnormally, as a kind of panacea. After a year or two have passed, I think that the enthusiasm of the Mendelian geneticists for colchicine will have subsided.

I have continually told the Mendelian geneticists that even if we were not at odds, I should not be a Mendelian. The important thing is not to dispute; let us work in a friendly manner an a plan elaborated scientifically. Let us take up definite problems, receive assignments from the People's Commissariat of Agriculture (N.K.Z.) of the USSR and fulfil them scientifically. We may argue about the way of fulfilling this or that practically important scientific work, or dispute as to the correct methods, but not aimlessly.

I trust, that the editors of the magazine Pod Znametnem Marksizma will help us in this task.


IN ORDER to make genetics actually a leading science, genuinely serving our socialist construction, we have to revise critically a whole series of basic propositions of our genetic science.

A number of the speeches showed that the comrades are thinking more of the old than the new. The impression is given that if Academician Lysenko did not exist, if Lysenko did not make sharp criticisms of genetics, then in general all would be calm and peaceful, and nobody would hinder us, as somebody expressed it here, from "working quietly." Lysenko appeared and began to "hinder" us from working.

It is very good that Lysenko began to hinder us from working in that sense!

How did N. I. Vavilov speak N. I. Vavilov told us various good things about the achievements of world science. This material was in part known, in part unknown. But this story is of little use. What was needed, Nicolai Ivanovich, was a serious critical analysis of every point on which you spoke; it was not necessary for you to bow slavishly before foreign science. I say before the whole auditorium that I esteem you highly as a scientist. You personally have done significantly more than Bateson. But for some reason Bateson and others play a very big role in your speech, and continue to blot out the achievements of our science. You can advance science, but you do not do so sufficiently. I am referring to those theoretical genetic subjects, which you discussed, since I value very highly your scientific work in assembling a world collection [of wheat varieties] and your analysis of the paths of evolution of cultivated plants.

What did Comrade Levitsky say here He said that there should not be a speculative, as he cautiously put it, criticism of genetics. What is meant by a "speculative" criticism If we are to speak of a criticism which is arbitrary, bad, untrue, ill-advised, of course, that would be superfluous. But if by "speculativeness" there is implied the well-known attempt to avoid criticism of fundamental concepts, then we differ with you. We are for such criticism.

Permit me to pass to the consideration of a series of problems, and present my conclusions with respect to them. I begin with the problem which naturally should engage our attention above all--the problem of hereditary variability, of variations in the hereditary nature of the organism. Has genetics been successful in dealing with this problem? Not by any means. It is unnecessary to remind you that many adopt the position of autogenesis. When the well-known work of Muller appeared on the X-ray production of mutations in Drosophila, Serebrovsky published an article whose title, if my memory does not betray me, was "Four pages which shook the world." In my opinion, these four pages may not have shaken the world, but only A. S. Serebrovsky, because he accepted autogenesis.

It is very often said that the experimental production of mutations is the greatest achievement of the geneticists. Mutations are obtained with the aid of X-rays, ultra-violet rays, radium and various chemicals.

It is impossible to be arbitrary with respect to these works and deny everything. But, in my opinion, there is here the same sort of "unity of the internal and the external" as, let us say, when we take a stick and break the leg of a dog with it. Is it possible in this case to speak of the unity of the stick and the dog? It is doubtful.

But I think that when we take X-rays and other agents, we take something like a stick and beat the organism with it, we knock out something. Of course, something is changed, and we get a new result. It would be strange if it were otherwise. But are we getting any nearer to solving the basic question: the r81e of external factors in the mutation process? It would be an oversimplification to underestimate this stage in the development of genetics and to maintain that it will give us nothing; that in my opinion would be wrong. The elaboration of a series of experimental procedures sometimes enables us to obtain variations, and solves certain methodological problems. Certain variations by chance turn out to be useful, although only relatively few. In fact only isolated variations of this sort have proved useful and could be utilized. For example, Comrade Olenov obtained such variations in yeasts and Delone said that he got such variations in wheat.

Further, these methods helped us when applied to building of polyploids and in connection with the complex rebuilding of the nuclear system. I take these labors very seriously, since their practical effectiveness, from my point of view, is rather great. To deny this, to pass it by, as some people do here in the heat of discussion, I consider quite wrong.

But on the whole, when you think of the mass of work or read the manual of the well known geneticist, Stubbe, on the experimental production of mutations, and there is a series of other introductory works as well, when you think of all this enormous mass of work, and ask yourself, "And what concretely did it give in practice?" your answer must be that outside of that field of which I spoke, namely polyploidal rebuilding of the genome as a whole (for in this field there is a series of important achievements), the methods in question have given remarkably little to practice. It is necessary to think deeply on the question of what such methods contribute to real mastery by variations of the hereditary nature of the organism.

But has any theory given us this? Perhaps the obtaining of gene mutations has led us to a deeper explanation of the properties of the structure of the cell and its constituent elements? No, comrades, I venture to assert it has not. And those conclusions which were drawn, e.g., by Timofeev-Ressovsky and other well known geneticists, are completely false. I will return to this a little later.

It is necessary to hold fast to the main point of this problem, that is, the elaboration of methods of specific action. It is necessary to investigate the physiological causes of the mutation process. We can do this if we have a clear theoretical aim. This aim was suggested by Engels. It is included in the idea that variations of the organism derive from variations which are specific for the type of interchange of substances typical for the organism. It is necessary to vary, in a suitable way, the interchange between organism and environment, which is specific for the given species, variety and individual. Then we obtain genuine displacements. Without this, all these taps from without, all those "strokes with the stick," although they may have some sort of auxiliary significance in research, do not touch the main point. Only by proceeding by way of physiology, if you will, by way of biology of the organism, can we change it deeply and purposefully.

And a second factor, very closely connected with this: We must know, of course, how to vary the organism, when to act on a given organism--a question which in the old genetics was called the question of the sensitive period. The concept of the sensitive period has a certain indefiniteness; its significance has to be more exactly defined. It signifies that stage in the development of the organism in which a definite method of affecting irreversible changes in specific physiological interactions will he the most effective.

In this connection I want to mention the work of Michurin. Shameful things were said here of Michurin's work by some geneticists, to the effect that Michurin was a geneticist because he applied crossing. That is nonsense, comrades! It was shameful to say such things: crossing has been applied for some thousands of years. When you speak of research, you must take the essential, the characteristic. The main motif in the work of both Michurin and Lysenko is the attempt, brilliantly realized in Michurin, now being realized in Lysenko, to modify the physiological reactions in the plant at a definite stage of its development.

And when in this connection they begin to find Lamarckism in Michurin and Lysenko--believe me, biologists know me and know that I am no lover of Lamarckism--then that seems to me a shameful stratagem. Why? Because, the only people who could find Lamarckism here are those who, even if they recognize the production of mutations by X-rays, nevertheless accept autogenesis.

Is all the rest of genetics (i.e., aside from the work of Lysenko and his school) irrelevant to the study of physiological factors in the mutation process? I think not. There is a series of works which in other ways than Michurin's and Lysenko's try to approach the analysis of the physiological factors in the mutation process. These works, of course, do not have so great a practical effectiveness as the works of Michurin and Lysenko. They approach the task from the other side and have to be brought back to the right path.

In genetics, we say, there is an extensive theory, which bears a not altogether accurate name--the theory of mutable genes. Physiological upheavals in the interchange of substances call forth unusual instability of the hereditary basis of the plant, a rebuilding in various generations, in various parts of one and the same organism. Valuable material can be derived hence.

Comrade Navashin attempted to study those physiological changes which occur when the seed ages. The young Kiev geneticist Gershenson did the following work: He tried to feed Drosophila, adding nucleic acid to the food. And he obtained hereditarily changed forms. In this case something more than an ordinary chemical was used to alter the interchange of substances. You know of course the significance of nucleic acid, and why it was used. (And there is also other work by Stubbe, Casperson, etc.)

These works lie in another plane than the works of Michurin and Lysenko. That is obvious. But the question of the physiological factors has to be tackled from all sides. Many geneticists are trying to come to grips with it, and the comrades here have to think the matter through seriously so that the experience with X-rays should not be repeated. It is necessary to consider in detail the influence of these chemical substances on the cell, on its several elements, and then to undertake experiments.

We now pass to the question of the genotype and the phenotype, the hereditary and the non-hereditary. How do I understand this question It seems to me, comrades, that in order to avoid confusion, we ought to distinguish three distinct and basic aspects, which, however, are interrelated: First, the question of adequacy (parallel induction, Ed.) , second, of the directedness of variations, and third, of the adaptive character of variations.

The first question relates to adequacy. A number of comrade geneticists contended that adequacy is impossible. In general, comrades, adequacy has been made into a bugaboo. But the question of adequacy should be raised primarily on the absolutely concrete plane. What variations are being discussed? What organism? And what character? That is what must be dealt with. We all have an insufficiently thorough historical approach to the problem of producing hereditary variations. We are inclined to evaluate on the same level, for instance, the producing of hereditary variations in wheat and in cattle. Somewhere in back of our mind lurks the thought that heredity and variability appear in various forms, and at different stages of evolution assume different expressions. But this still has to be concretized. If we are discussing, let us say, the cold-resistance of wheat, we are dealing with a plant which has a growth point. From the cells of this point of growth are formed both the body of the plant and its reproductive cells. And now let us suppose that by operating on the plant at a given stage, you obtain some irreversible variation, having a biochemical nature. The physiologists consider (with how much truth, I do not know) that raising the percentage of linoleic acid increases resistance to cold. Let us suppose that such a variation took place as the result of action both on the somatic and the future sex cells and the point of growth were changed. The question then arises: Will the body and the sex cells be varied in a parallel and adequate manner, or not? It can happen.

We need not be frightened by adequacy. If we now ask whether sunburn on the skin of a man is reflected in his spermatozoids or not, we must recognize that here there is a different connection between the characters and the reproductive elements. In this second case, comrades--and such cases are very frequent--we cannot speak of adequacy. If we did, we would be preformationists of true Weismannian breed. This is because such adaptations as the color of a butterfly or the color of our skin are the result of a long process of individual evolution. This is a definite characteristic which came about as the result of a long process of evolution. If we think that the spermatozoa, which were differentiated earlier, and are in a different relation to the body, can directly and adequately express this variation, then that implies that in the spermatozoa there are "embryos" of this character, it implies the preformist point of view. And yet it is only in this case that we can speak of adequacy.

We need not make a bugaboo of this adequacy, but we do need to analyze the question concretely. I consider that for the great majority of characters (which are the product of a long evolution), a variation of the conditions at a given stage of development cannot adequately transform the reproductive elements. Only from the point of view of Lamarckian teleology or Weismannian preformationism would it be possible to make such an assumption. Only in isolated cases is it possible to admit such variation.

The second question is concerned with directed variation of the genotype. This is one of the issues on which classical genetics dogmatized, and hastened to declare to be forbidden ground. The conjecture, however, was made even by classical geneticists that the separate factors of heredity, having begun to vary in one direction, will mutate more often in the direction of selection. Such a statement of the issue was made, e.g., by Castle. Morgan clamped down on him for this, declaring that there was no such mutation in the direction of selection. The problem was thus buried.

Jollos too approached this Question, but unsuccessfully. For what reason, is another matter. But it is interesting that he did at least try to analyze this problem for which he was later attacked by Muller. But the essence of the whole matter, comrades, is that the very problem was incorrectly stated.

It is quite obvious that the basic creative factor in directing evolution is selection. No Darwinist will deny this. But here a second question arises. The hereditary basis of the organism must vary, in the sense of the evolution of characters, in a definite direction. Without this, ail our phylogenetic series lose their, so to speak, "material basis"; without this all of phylogeny hangs in the air. I believe that the problem here is to investigate the question and show the paths of possible directed variation of the organism.

Theoretically there exists a series of possible paths. If we speak of the sex cell as the starting point, then there can be a different type of variation, which gives a phenotypal directed effect. But the most important type of variation occurs when the genotype varies from A-1 to A-2, etc. The biochemical mechanism of this variation is fully conceivable. Organic chemistry gives us a hint of a way to obtain known series of substances with properties increasing in a single direction. This is a serious problem, and it is impossible to brush aside the question of the directedness of variations.

The third question concerns the nature of the rebuilding of the characters of species by adaptation. Obviously, there are three possibilities here; either the character is adaptive or non-adaptive or harmful. If we should say that the variation is always adaptive, that would be pure Lamarckism; it would be the conception of original teleology. And I personally believe that Darwin's terms, "definite" and "indefinite variability" are very important in this connection. Darwin pointed out that there is a whole series of variations, mutational variations, if you will, which he himself described, and which with respect to the adaptation of the organism may be either useful or indifferent or harmful. Darwin pointed out that a large number of variations which arise in organisms are heritable, but indefinite in the sense of adaptation, and that only selection will give them adaptive lines.

In this connection I should like to mention the statement of the question which I find in the works of Comrades Lysenko, Prezent and others. I consider that in these works there is insufficient clarity. I have nowhere read a clear and distinct formulation of the question; there were none. Moreover, when the question of Lamarckism came up in this connection, Comrades Lysenko and Prezent dissociated themselves from it so ineffectively that much confusion remained.

Comrade Prezent states that, according to the Lamarckian conception, the organism is able to adapt itself to conditions which exceed the limits of its demands, but presumably thinks that it rakes place differently. This is incorrect, inasmuch as for the vast majority of Lamarckians-Wettstein, Warming, and others--it is precisely the idea of "sliding transitions" which is characteristic, the idea of gradual displacement of the norm of reaction. On this question it is needful to dissociate oneself more clearly and precisely from the Lamarckian point of view.

Another objection is raised in this connection. Comrade Prezent, e.g., writes that according to the Lamarckian view the external goes over into the internal, diffuses in the internal. An example is adduced: when, presumably, light acts on wheat, the wheat does not reflect the character of the light ray. But no Lamarckian, unless he is hopelessly naive, will say that the plant, under the influence of light rays is transformed into a ray of light. The question is not this, but rather that the external conditions will always give a purposefully directed effect, an adaptive effect. That is the crux of the matter. Hence the criticism must of course be carried on in a different manner; a clearer, more precise formulation of the question must be given. Then our disputes in this field can be resolved.

Now if we proceed from what I have said to analyze the question of the genotype, the phenotype, the heritable and the nonheritable, then it is necessary to reconsider these conceptions in genetics. We must, as it were, break down the Chinese wall which' is frequently raised between these concepts. It is quite obvious that not every somatic variation is heritable. The point is that definite somatic variations refracted through the changes going on in the interchange of substances finally become heritable under certain conditions.

How often does all this take place? Here the question must be precisely stated. Glembotzky's speech suggested an extremely interesting question to me. We, comrades, lose sight of the saying of Engels that heredity is a conservative force while variability is progressive. Of course they are interrelated. But the whole question concerns the degree of the organism's stability or instability. We must not go too far to one side or the other; we must not overestimate the degree of the organism's stability and make of its stability a sort of "limit" to variation. But in your works, Comrade Prezent, you have 6veresrimated the degree of the organism's instability.

I believe that in this connection we have to pose a whole series of concrete problems. The attempts to vary the interchange of substances, to find the sensitive periods are very valuable. In this connection vegetative variations and hybridization constitute an extremely important, essential, and most effective method for deriving changes in the heritable nature. With the previous approach to this question, as it is so far elucidated in genetics texts, we will not go far.

In this connection I should like to make a short observation on N. I. Vavilov. You, Nikolai Ivanovich, in your speech supported the viewpoint of classical genetics that variations arising in vegetative hybridization do not change the hereditary nature of the organism. Let us for a moment ignore Michurin, Lysenko, and Alexeeva, who spoke today, but discuss the point of view of classical genetics. Even here we will find material which points to significant changes arising under vegetative hybridization. I refer to the work of Wettstein with Petunia: by means of vegetative hybridization he obtained variations of the constitution of genetically stable characters of the organism. Take the work of Kostov who is connected with your institute: he showed the emergence of gene mutations under vegetative hybridization. Thus even the material already accumulated in classical genetics permits a different approach to these questions. Likewise, the subject of dauer-modification (Jollos) must be subjected to detailed consideration.

Now I should like to consider the problems of the material hereditary basis of the organism. Heredity is the reproduction and the development of the characters of preceding generations in the offspring. It is important to state this because, unfortunately, we seem always to reduce the whole matter to the initial stages and the end of the development of the organism, to the developed organism and its characters, while the process of development, the all important intermediate stages, are lost sight of.

In this connection, it seems to me, that we have to take a definite position with respect to chromosomes and genes. The gene-theory in its present form, as accepted by many contemporary geneticists, is extraordinarily metaphysical. But these geneticists do not like to have this said. I believe that we have here merely a sort of modernized preformationism, denying evolution. Thus when M. M. Zavadovsky spoke here, he said that he was not frightened by corpuscularity, by the expression "the gene is a biological atom."

Some geneticists think that the conception of the interaction of genes, or the balance of genes, saves the situation and helps get rid of corpuscularity. But I believe that this conception of the gene as a biological atom is an empty conception. Genes as biological atoms do not exist. But it is clear what they mean. Look at the work of those who take this view, Belling, for example. Belling writes frankly that the theory of chromosomes is the theory of life, and that it is possible even to see separate genes. We find an analogous expression in Koltzov. Finally Morgan and Muller, with their attempt to calculate what number of genes Drosophila consists of.

From the audience: Not true.

Polyakov: How not true I remember such a calculation; how large is the number of known mutant genes in Drosophila, and how many genes can there be in general? Am I correct?

From the audience: Correct.

Potyakov: Then why do you say it is not true?

From the audience: It is one thing to say how many genes a cell of Drosophila has, and another, of how many genes Drosophila consists.

Polyakov: By all means, if this formulation suits you, I can accept it. But it does not alter the situation. This leads to the attempt to split up the whole organism into chromosomes. If some comrades support such a conception, that is their affair. I consider it untrue and unfruitful. I have in mind the theories of the epitome, of genules, the intermediary theory of Serebrovsky and other theories concerning the structure of the gene. Basically, they have as their starting point the idea that if anything varies in the organism, then smash up the genes still further, into genules, sub-genes, under-genes, etc. This is the logic which has led all the researchers working with it into a dead-end. They invent proofs that the gene is the "unit of life," and try to portray it as an isolated molecule.

I read the article of Timofeev-Ressovsky, Delbruck and Zimmer, and even consulted on it with physicists. The essence of this article is that a mutation is a monomolecular rebuilding of the loci of chromesomes, and thus a variation of the gene. Thence the logical conclusion is drawn that the gene is monomolecular or something close to it. However, even if we grant that X-rays evoke monomolecular variations (which is not exactly proven), this tells us precisely nothing either about the gene or its construction.

But the matter goes further. After all, comrades, it is impossible to forget that all this incorrect statement became a philosophy of genetics, a bad philosophy of genetics. Let the geneticists come forward and say that it is not so! Here, in Bridges' book, The Genetic Conception of Life, precisely this idea is set forth. Muller quotes the statement that the genes arose before life, then united, etc. These are leading investigators: Bridges, Muller. Or take Hirst, who founded a whole theory as to how an organism is assembled from separate genes. That is a peculiar philosophy of life. We must not lose sight of it, comrades. But if you know this, you should discuss it and criticize it. This type of metaphysical (genetic) conception of life eliminates a whole series of problems, as e.g. such questions as evolution, the correlation in the developing organism and the rather important question as to the cyclical nature of ontogenetic development. With such a metaphysical genetic conception it is inevitable that there should be a certain disdain for the problem of the external factors of development. Right here is where I look for the roots of that genetic fatalism which feeds the most reactionary tendencies. I am very far from the thought of surrendering genetics to all sorts of reactionaries, and saying that from the essence of genetics there spring racism, eugenics, and other superstitions. But we have to think through the basic theories very thoroughly and consider what they contain which can suggest such views.

Now as to the question of chromosomes. We have to call attention to a series of concepts which should be clear to us from the very beginning so that we need not return to them. We cannot speak of the chromosome as an isolated entity. It is quite obvious that variations of the chromosome or in the chromosome cannot be understood by themselves. And neither the chromosomes nor this or that chromosome locus defines the heredity of a character, but rather the interacting system of the organism as a whole.

I consider that to put the question of the influence of chromesomes in the way in which the comrades did in Vernalisation, is impossible. I remember one such formulation. The chromosome is connected with the hereditary properties and characters of the organism. It has to be studied like every other character, like, e.g., the fuzz on leaves. But the question cannot he put in this way. Fuzz on the leaves is one of many characters, hut the basis of life, the base from which the organism develops, is the cell. The chromosome is the essential part of the cell, and therefore such a superficial comparison, such an analogy, does not of course solve the question and calls for deserved censure. One cannot get rid of this question so simply!

The problem is what concrete role do the chromosomes play, for they do play a definite role in the development of the organism. Comrade Kolman remarked on the table exhibited by Comrade Kerkis, which showed a correspondence between chromosomal variations and changes in definite characters. He referred to the importance of these facts and the necessity of analyzing the problems further. To me it is quite obvious that the problem here is not to split the organism up in some way into chromosomes.

Goldschmidt, unlike Muller and Morgan (and Muller does not consider him a real geneticist), does not try to engage in such a splitting-up, but tries to place the problem on a different plane. I have no time to go into the details of this theory but I may say that it appeals to me in a number of respects. I should like to emphasize that we must approach the study of the question experimentally, observe experimentally what role in the development of the organism, what role in the sense of the influence on the formation of definite properties of the organism, is played by the various parts of the cell, the chromosomal apparatus and the variation of this apparatus. This is an extremely important problem, from which we cannot escape in any case.

If you had one chromosome dropping out of the original cell from which the organism develops (as happens in the case of the sex chromosome), then the whole system, of course, develops differently. If you strike out half of a chromosome, break off a part or get it entirely out of the organism--how is that reflected at a given stage of development under given external conditions, in the development of this or that character? And here, of course, such an analysis, correctly carried out, helps us understand the essence of the process of heredity, and in a number of cases has already helped us. And I frankly state that I accept this genetic material and its great conceptual value. In many cases this helps us show the significance of definite cell structures in heredity. The most brilliant example of this is, in my opinion, that furnished by investigations of sex determination. Cytogeneticists have attained the greatest success in this field. I have cited only one example. I think that neglect of this aspect of the question can be only harmful. Is there such careless neglect among the adherents of Comrade Lysenko? I believe there is. The comrades will not deny this.

In evaluating the position of Comrade Lysenko and the other representatives of this movement, I find it impossible to agree with it. Despite all reservations, I find it very negative. In theory they have somewhere stated that the cell has an influence on heredity. But concretely--all the related facts which constitute the rational kernel of the chromosome theory and its role in the development of the characters of the organism are avoided. Here they discover a blank wall in genetics.

But this is not the case. With respect to correlation Comrade Kolman has already explained that this idea is completely wrong, that it gives us nothing. It is necessary to establish known causes (I do not fear this word)--if they are not direct causes, then through a series of mediating links it is necessary to establish causal connections in the development of the organism.

Comrade Prezent formulated the question thus: you see some kind of variation or create some variation in the structure of the chromosomal apparatus. When the organism has developed, you see a variation in the development. But post hoc is not propter hoc. Granted, that in a number of cases this may be so. In general, it is necessary to presuppose a longer history of development, a more complicated interrelation. But this question is resolved once again by experimental practice. In a whole series of cases you can evoke variations and predict the result (e.g., in connection with sex characters in various reconstructions of the chromosomal apparatus),and you can show that here post hoc after all is equal to propter hoc. I believe that the disdainful attitude toward this question can cause definite harm in practice.

Comrades Lysenko and Prezent, I do not like your attitude toward the work on polyploids, on the obtaining of amphidiploids and of thus overcoming sterility accompanying hybridization. Naturally, the lack of compatibility of the chromosomes is not the only cause of sterility. We have only to refer to Michurin in this matter. It is strange to hear the statement that fruitful hybrids arise sometimes by chance and without any experiment. But this is the very treasure-hunting which you always object to. Here you are offered a definite method which is much more effective but you run away from it when you should utilize it.

A few words on Mendelism. The solution of this question is quite clear from my attitude toward the chromosome theory of heredity. Timiryazev's evaluation of Mendelism which is many-sided and diversified, should not be exaggerated in one direction or the other. It must be comprehended, considered as a whole.

We must object to the attempt to universalize Mendelism which exists, but on the other hand, to throw Mendelism off the books and declare it pseudo-scientific I consider impossible and incorrect.

One last remark, Darwinism is much criticized today in capitalistic lands. I must say that genetics has rendered a number of services in the elaboration of evolutionary theory. But it calls for comment when our geneticists say that genetics has done a great deal for Darwinism, and at the same time say nothing of the fact that genetics has given us a number of completely incorrect conceptions leading to anti-Darwinian theories. And here we are not dealing with Heribert Nilsson who resurrected the ideas of Cuvier. To a large extent the theory of homologous series in a Batesonian sense, still persists. It is impossible to speak as you did of homologous series, Nikolai Ivanovich (Vavilov), without indicating how the anti-Darwinians use them. Last year, e.g, the book of Reinig appeared, which is based on this theory. It diverted a whole group of scientists in the direction of this false idea. He is carrying out your idea (Vavilov's), counterposing it to Darwin's theory. Comrade Polyansky spoke of the article of Punnet. Punnet actually asserted from the Batesonian position, that the Darwinian era ended forty years ago and that the Mendelian era has begun.

If these were only reactionary phrases, they would be easy to dismiss. But the theory of mimicry, one of the strongholds of the theory of natural selection, of Darwinism, is also criticized by them from this point of view. They criticize a whole series of the most progressive tendencies in modern biology.

Comrades, take such a group of scientists as Fisher, Wright--we speak of them as Darwinian geneticists. I have referred to Haldane as a Darwinian geneticist and I believe I shall continue to do so. But we must not only study them, but correct them. When these Darwinian geneticists employed a statistics far more interesting than those we have been discussing, when they begin to build a whole evolutionary conception on this empty, purely abiological statistics, then we can show that in the works of Haldane and the others there is no consideration of real biological interrelations, of all that is concretely involved in evolution, and much is transformed into an abstract scheme.

The struggle with all the reactionary distortions of Darwinism and with its denial by a series of geneticists is not over. We do not, and cannot brush aside such contributions of genetics as are found in the conception of evolutionary divergence, of the cytological basis of this divergence, of the role of mutations and polyploids in evolution and a number of other matters. These are genuine achievements of genetics which contemporary Darwinism must include in its system.

The editorial board in the letter which was sent us called the geneticists to solidarity. This solidarity can be attained only on the basis of Darwinism, elucidated and made deeper from the position of dialectical materialism.


[1] For the substanre of Mitin's criticisms see The American Quarterly on the Soviet Union, 11 (1940), no. 4, 37-48.

[2] Pod Znamonem Marksizma, no. 11, 1939; p. 145-68.

[3] Pod Znamenem Marksizma, no. 11, 1939, p. 169-80.

[4] "Proceedings of the Conference on Planning of Genetico-selective Research," 1932, p. 21. Academy of Science of the U. S. S. R. (Leningrad, 1933).

[5] Ibid., p. 22.

[6] Ibid., p. 233.

[7] Ibid., p. 71.

[8] Pod Znamenem Marksizma, no. 11, 1939, p. 127-44.