1021-4437/03/5001- $25.00 © 2003
Russian Journal of Plant Physiology, Vol. 50, No. 1, 2003, pp. 140–146. Translated from Fiziologiya Rastenii, Vol. 50, No. 1, 2003, pp. 151–159.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2003 by Voronin, Ivanov, Ivanova, Black, Ziegler.
On February 1, 2002, during one of his usual busi-
ness trips to Germany, an outstanding phytophysiologist
Professor Vladimir Ivanovich P’yankov passed away. He
was only 47 years old and died in the prime of his life and
at the peak of his career and research success.
During two last decades, we witnessed rapid
progress in the development of structural and func-
tional methods of the ecological studies of photosyn-
thesis. This progress immediately involved P’yankov
who successfully developed the idea of Academician
A.T. Mokronosov about the unity of structure and func-
tion in the evolution of photosynthesis. P’yankov con-
sistently realized the program of studying the mecha-
nism of adaptation of photosynthesis to the extreme
conditions of Eurasia. He possessed an amazing and
bright talent to comprehensively perceive the problems
and bring together the physiological, geographical, and
botanical aspects of the evolution of photosynthesis.
Indeed, he was a man of global thinking and a worthy
successor to Vernadsky and Ramensky, Darwin and
About 50 million years ago, a collision between
Laurasia and India resulted in drying off of the ancient
Thetis Ocean. The Mediterranean, Black, Caspian, and
Aral seas and Lake Baikal are the relics of this ocean.
This collision brought about the global aridization of
the young continent of Eurasia and its shift toward the
circumpolar region, which caused hardships to the veg-
etation of the moderate climate of Laurasia. The note of
physiology vividly sounded in P’yankov’s research on
the evolution of Chenopodiaceae. In this research, he
revealed the nature of the adaptation potential of C
plants competing for colonization of young extraarid
Turan deserts. P’yankov was the ﬁrst to overcome the
paradigm of the primary importance of adaptation of
type of photosynthesis at cellular and subcellular
levels and to move to the tissue and organ levels of
adaptation of the photosynthetic apparatus. He noted
the trend of reverse evolution from the NADP- to NAD-
malic enzyme pathway in plants with the aristidoid and
succulent types of mesostructure. This observation
pointed to the priority of structure and to the secondary
nature of biochemical function of the photosynthetic
apparatus due to its conservatism.
Vladimir Ivanovich P’yankov was born on March 31,
1954, in the town of Pervoural’sk, Sverdlovsk oblast, to
the family of a worker. In 1971, he graduated from sec-
ondary school in Pervoural’sk. As a schoolboy, he did
not hesitate over his future occupation. His mother
Zoya Ivanovna recollected that he knew for sure that he
would become a biologist. From his youth onwards,
P’yankov’s whole-hearted nature and keen intellect
earned him immense prestige.
In 1976, P’yankov graduated from the Faculty of
Biology, Ural State University, with a ﬁrst-class honors
degree and became a post-graduate student at the Chair
of Plant Physiology headed by Professor Mokronosov.
His whole life was closely associated with this chair
where he paved his way from the assistant lecturer up
to Professor and Head of the Chair.
P’yankov’s early research dealt with the effect of
temperature on photosynthetic metabolism of arctic
plants. As a student, he studied the adaptation of plant
photosynthetic function to low temperatures on the
Wrangel Island. He compared the speciﬁc features of
carbon metabolism and thermolability of photosyn-
thetic pathways in related species growing under the
Arctic and moderate climates. He found in particular
Vladimir Ivanovich P’yankov:
Phytophysiologist, Teacher, and Organizer of Science
: FTP—functional types of plants.