Who are you, Professor N.W. Timofeeff-Ressovsky, – zoologist, genetics, radiobiologist, ecologist, evolutionist…?

  • I. M. Gudkov


To the 120th anniversary of the birth, information about the basic dates of life and creativity, as well as about the basic scientific achievements of the outstanding biologist Nikolay W. Timofeeff-Resovsky (1900–1981) is presented. The data on his contribution to genetics, radiation biology, ecology, the doctrine of microevolutionary processes are given. His works have played a major role in the development of molecular-physical approaches to the problems of genetics. He is regarded as one of the founders of radiation and population genetics. He is one of first who used the ionizing radiation, including a dense-ionizing radiation, for obtain of experimental mutations. He formulated a “hit-principle” and a “target theory” – the basis of modern quantitative radiobiology; a “principle of amplifier”, which explains how a single change, such as a gene mutation that can occur for energies of only a few electron-volts, activates forces that are several orders of magnitude larger and change the properties of the whole individual. He elaborated whole doctrine about microevolution – the emergence of new biological species, identified the elementary object of microevolution – population, elementary material – mutations, elementary factors – mutational process, elementary evolutionary phenomenon – stable change in the genotypic composition of the population. Based on the huge experimental material about migration of radionuclides in the environment and their uptake to living organisms, he formulated the main foundation of radiation ecology. The author summarizes the memories of meetings with scientist.

Keywords: N.W. Timofeeff-Resovsky, radiation genetics, population genetics, radiation biology, radiation ecology, microevolution.


Granin D.A. Zubr. Novi Mir. 1987. N 1 and 2 and other editions. [in Russian]

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Reverse genovariation in Drosophila funebris. Zhurnal experimentalni biologii. 1925. Series А. V. 1. P. 143–144. [in Russian]

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Somatical genovariations of definite gene to diverse directions under action of X-rays. All-Union Congress of genetics and selective breeders: works. Leningrad, 1929. Vol. 2. P. 473–482. [in Russian]

Zimmer K.G., Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Dosimetrische und strahlenbiologischeversuche mit schnellen Neutronen II. Strahlentherapie. 1938. Vol. 63. P. 528–536.

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. The production of mutations by neutron irradiation. Res. Progress. 1939. Vol. 5(3). P. 182–187.

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W., Zimmer K.G., Delbruck M. Uber die Natur der Genmutation und der Genstruktur. Nachr. Gess. Wiss. Gottingen. 6, N. F. 1935. Vol. 1(13). P. 189–245.

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Le mecanisme des mutations et la structure du gene. Congres du palais de la decouverte (Reunion Intern. de Phys. Chim et Biol. Paris.). 1937. P. 485–516.

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Genetik und Evolution. Z. Ind. Abst. Vererbl. 1939. Vol. 76(1–2). P. 158–218.

Bauer H., Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Genetic und Evolutionsforschung bei Tieren. Die Evolution der Organismen. Jena, 1943. P. 335–429.

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W., Zimmer K.G. Strahlengenetik. Strahlentherapie. 1944. Vol. 74. P. 183–211.

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W., Ivanov V.I., Korogodin V.I. Application of scoring a hit principle in radiobiology. Moskow: Atomizdat, 1968. 228 p. [in Russian]

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Mutations and geographical variation. New System. Oxford. 1940. P. 73–136.

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Microevolution. Elementary phenomenons, materials and factors of microevolutionary process. Bot. zhurnal. 1958. Vol. 43b(3). P. 317–336. [in Russian]

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Some problems of radiation biocenology: autopaper of doctor sciences thesis. Sverdlovsk, 1962. 50 p. [in Russian]

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W. Mechanism of the propagation of energy in physics and biology. Res. Progr. 1945. Vol. 11. P. 3–13.

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W., Rompe R.R. About statisticality and amplifier principle in biology. Problemi kibernetiki. 1959. No. 2. P. 213–227. [in Russian]

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W., Savich A.B., Shalnov M.I. Introduction in molecular radiobiology. Physical and chemical foundations. Moscow: Meditsina, 1981. 320 p. [in Russian]

Timofeeff-Ressovsky N.W., Vorontsov N.N., Yablokov A.V. Short essay of evolution theory. Moscow: Nauka, 1969. 408 p. [in Russian]