Tribute to Boris Vartapetian

Boris Vartapetian died in Moscow on 12th September 2020 aged 95. His passing marks the end of a long and crusading scientific career much of it devoted to establishing plant anaerobiosis as an internationally recognised subject in its own right. In 1975, he arranged a seminal session on plant anaerobiosis at the XII International Botanical Congress, Leningrad. The contributors he invited comprised the core of scientists that slowly expanded and evolved into today’s sizeable international community of plant anaerobiosis researchers. Thus, Boris was recognisably the founding father of the International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis (ISPA), devising the actual name in 1985 as a platform for an influential UNESCO-funded international conference on plant anaerobiosis held at the K.A. Timiriazev Institute of Plant Physiology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow where he had worked since 1956. Arranging these international meetings was no mean achievement considering the difficulties posed by the ‘iron curtain’ then separating the USSR and the West. Despite the narrow biochemical connotation of the term ‘anaerobiosis’ Boris was, from the start, concerned to interpret it as widely as possible so as to embrace not only biochemistry but ecology, agronomy, whole plant physiology, cell and molecular biology, space travel, life in the oceans and more.

See the entire tribute here