Agrobiology, p. 262-264 (1954)
T. D. Lysenko

"Maternal" Hybrids in Wheat

According to the Mendelists, the organism, the cell, contains a special "hereditary substance" which consists of granules (genes). Conditions of life change the organism, but its nature, the "hereditary substance" (the gene), remains unchanged. From Mendel's so-called law of the purity of gametes it follows that, beginning with the fertilization of the egg cell, the "hereditary substance" passes through the whole organism without undergoing any change. This conception of heredity, based on the idea of some sort of special "hereditary substance" separate from the body (soma) of the organism, is a very great hindrance to the creation of varieties and breeds in seed growing and livestock breeding. In support of the false law of the purity of gametes, purity of chromosomes and genes, the Mendelist-Morganists usually point to the "segregation" of hybrids, i.e., to the variation in the progeny of hybrid organisms. In this variation it is possible, as a rule, to meet with organisms that in their entirety, or in individual properties or characters, resemble either of their parents.

In support of this spurious law seemingly weighty arguments like the following are advanced. The progeny of, say, an awnless hybrid spike (from the crossing of awnless with awned wheat) contains both awned and awnless plants. Pointing to this and analogous examples, the Mendelist geneticists say: "Do you see? You crossed awned with awnless plants and the resulting plants are awnless. But these awnless plants have retained 'hereditary granules' of awnedness which, although not revealing themselves in the appearance of the plants, have remained in the chromosomes in their pure, unaltered, state." In the opinion of the Mendelists, this is "brilliantly" confirmed by the fact that some of the progeny of such awnless plants may be awned.

It must be stated that there are no few cases when the heredity of one of the parents taken for crossing does not manifest itself for a number of generations, or manifests itself only in rare, individual organisms of the progeny. Usually the Mendelist geneticists forget about this, or, simpler still, consider such facts nonexistent.

Many comrades who are working on interspecific and intergeneric hybridization are well aware of cases in which the progeny takes entirely after the mother, or entirely after the father. True, I know of far fewer cases of resulting forms being purely paternal than of their being purely maternal, but such cases do occur. Who does not know that in genetic experiments the Morganists weed out plants with the maternal type of heredity because they regard such plants as the result of unsuccessful crossing (which they usually attribute to faulty castration of the flowers of the mother plant)?

The foregoing facts can be understood only from the standpoint of Michurin's theory, which utterly rejects the metaphysical conception of heredity as a special, separate substance independent of the organism. Michurin also indicated the way to regulate the process of fertilization with a view to producing hybrid progeny that deviates more or less towards the lather or the mother, as desired. I have already cited above the instance of how A. S. Filippov, working in the Michurin manner, induced hybrid potatoes to deviate from the wild form Akaule towards the cultivated form.

In 1937, A. A. Avakian, a specialist at the All-Union Institute of Selection and Genetics (Odessa), crossed the awned winter wheat Azerbaijanskaya 2115 (the maternal form) with Lutescens 062, an awnless spring wheat. In the winter of 1938 the hybrid seeds were sown under glass so as to get well-tillered seedlings in the spring. This was done in order to obtain the largest possible quantity of seeds from each first-generation hybrid plant so as to ascertain how the second-generation progeny varies from each first-generation plant.

In the summer, when the hybrid plants were in the field, it was found, after earing, that among scores of hybrid awnless plants (the paternal form was awnless) there were several awned plants which literally in no way differed from the maternal form. According to all the rules of Mendelist-Morganist genetics, such plants should have been weeded out forthwith. The Mendelists would have said that the seeds from which these plants had grown were the result of self-pollination due to faulty or belated castration of the flowers at the time they were crossed with the awnless wheat.

The maternal form of Azerbaijanskaya 2115 is a weak winter variety, but a winter variety for all that, and when sown in the spring it does not ear. The awned plants that we are discussing eared in proper time. But this does not prove in the least that they are of hybrid origin, for they had been planted under glass (for growing seedlings) in winter, at a cool temperature. Under such conditions the seeds of any winter wheat will be fully vernalized by the beginning of the spring and will subsequently ear.

In brief, everything seemed to show that the above-mentioned awned plants were not of hybrid origin, i.e., that the awnless spring variety Lutescens 062 played no part in the creation of these plants.

In 1939, the offspring of these first-generation plants, the "legitimate hybrids" (i.e., the awnless), as well as the offspring of four awned plants, were planted separately at Gorki Leninskiye, the Experiment Base of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the U.S.S.R. I will not deal here with the question of how the progeny of the different first-generation plants varied, because the analysis is not yet complete. Suffice it to say that in the second generation, the progeny of one of the four awned plants (i.e., those that had seemed to be of the purely maternal type) produced several plants with characters which in many ways resembled those of the paternal form Lutescens 062. Of the 180 plants in the progeny of this plant, 172 were found to be of winter habit resembling the maternal form, and 8 of the plants eared; 5 of these were awnless and 3 were awned.

Data of this kind show that the heredity of one parent may, to some extent, be absorbed by the heredity of the other parent. Cases are not rare when crossing, particularly intergeneric and interspecific crossing, results, as it were, in complete absorption, the complete dominance of the heredity of one parent over the heredity of the other parent.