Russian Journal of Developmental Biology, Vol. 36, No. 6, 2005, p. 388. Translated from Ontogenez, Vol. 36, No. 6, 2005, pp. 461–463. Original Russian Text Copyright © 2005 by Mitrofanov. BOOK REVIEWS Boris L’vovich Astaurov. Essays, Memoirs, Letters, and Materials, Stroeva, O.G., Ed., Moscow: Nauka, 2004 The life and oeuvre of Boris L. Astaurov deserve a spe- research irrespective of the methodical ﬁnesse, which, cial attention of the scientiﬁc community, since they can of course, enhanced and accelerated the scientiﬁc serve as an example for a young man, who begins his path progress. Intense development of methods and creations in science. And here we speak not only about the scientiﬁc of many trends were characteristic for the science of the achievements of Astaurov. They are very impressive, wide middle of the 20th century and it was not easy to choose known and well covered in the reviewed book by leading the direction in this outrush that would not lead to a blind scientists, his contemporaries. While being a senior alley. Astaurov was able to do this in his own research and researcher at the Institute of Experimental Biology, he was used these principles when organizing the Institute of noticed as a talented scientist by his teachers Developmental Biology. This important aspect of Astau- N.K. Kol’tsov and I.I. Schmalhausen. Undoubtedly, his rov’s creative thinking is also reﬂected in the book. investigative talent was expressed much earlier, when in One of the key chapters of the book is rather extensive 1928 he obtained and studied a new for Drosophila mela- paper of Astaurov him self “On the Results of My Scien- nogaster mutation tetraptera. tiﬁc Activity in Genetics”. In this paper, he not only sum- marizes his scientiﬁc activity, but also reasons about the The reviewed book opens the pages of his biogra- main directions of scientiﬁc development, succession of phy, which deserves attention per se. Astaurov was generations, and place of our national science in the born and brought up in a typical old intelligent family, world. He also addresses the beginning of his scientiﬁc in which both industry and esteem to the work of others activity and determines the relationship between his ﬁrst are laid down from infancy. He preserved these proper- studies on Drosophila (unstable expressivity and pene- ties during his entire life. trance of mutation tetraptera) and later studies on par- The book carefully gathered all main signposts of thenogenesis in the silkworm. He demonstrated the Astaurov’s creative path. His contribution to the current methodological importance of artiﬁcial parthenogenesis biology is analyzed by well known scientists who hap- for solution of the problem of unstable penetrance and pened not only to get to known his work, but also work expressivity of many morphological mutations. This side-by-side with him. These analyses disclose the main problem still remains relevant despite successes of feature, which complements the multifarious talent of molecular genetics. It was not by accident that he Astaurov: his attention to the experiment. There were no included in his paper the correspondence with the out- trivia for him. Every step, every detail of experiment standing geneticist and neuropathologist S.N. Daviden- were thought over and taken into account. This can be kov, in which they discussed the main problems of devel- seen in his experiment on thermal induction of partheno- opmental genetics and individual variability. genesis, which were planned by minutes. In this respect, Memoirs were written by many well known scien- the planning and design of experiments by Astaurov can tists, Astaurov’s contemporaries, and collaborators who serve as manual not only for young researchers. happened to work with him or just be in touch with him. The scientiﬁc journalism of Astaurov is also These memoirs allow us not only to form an estimate of remarkable. In this respect, his review of the paper by the Astaurov’s scientiﬁc and social activities, but also to V.P. Efroimson dedicated to the evolutionary bases of obtain a certain account of the social environment, in human ethics stands out. In this review, Astaurov lays which he worked. His trust in preservation and aug- down the main principles of interaction between the menting of the trend of “progressive increase of the fea- genotype and environment and shows the role of these tures of rationality and humanity, further accumulation factors in development of the human individuality and of genetic and environmental prerequisites for the for- social interrelations. Address to this topic, although it is mation of the Man, not only wise, but also humane” not related directly to the experimental on silkworm, helped him to realize what he intended to do. suggests that Astaurov paid a great attention to the This book is undoubtedly a success of the compiler place of genetic investigations in the contemporary and editor, who were able to select the materials reﬂect- society and to the ethical aspect of scientiﬁc studies in ing practically all aspects of multifarious scientiﬁc general. These questions are still relevant. On the con- activity of the outstanding scientists Boris L. Astaurov. trary, in the light of current achievements of genetics and molecular biology, Astaurov’s views not only did V. G. Mitrofanov not outdate, but acquired an especially important sense. And this is quite natural, since he thought in big catego- Kol’tsov Institute of Developmental Biology, ries and had a foresight of the main directions of Russian Academy of Sciences 1062-3604/05/3606-0388 © 2005 Pleiades Publishing, Inc.
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 19, 2005
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