Elena Ivanovna Barulina

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Seeds of Lens culinaris, the cultivated lentil. Barulina studied them with their wild relatives and ancestors.

Elena Ivanovna Barulina (1895–1957)[1] was a Russian botanist and geneticist who did pioneering research on lentils and their wild relatives. In 1930, she published the first map of their international distribution, in a 317-page monograph that became the standard reference for researchers. The standard author abbreviation Barulina is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.[2]

Early life[edit]

Barulina was born in 1895 in Saratov, a major port on the Volga River. Her father was a manager in the port. After graduating from gymnasium in 1913 (with a silver medal) she entered the Faculty of Agronomy at the University of Saratov.[3]


One of her professors, noted Russian botanist and geographer Nikolai Vavilov (professor at the University of Saratova 1917- 1920) recommended her for graduate work and later invited her to accompany him to St. Petersburg where he would become Director of the Bureau of Applied Botany (now the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry.) Once there, she became assistant head of the institute's experimental seed station and (in 1926) Vavilov's wife.[3][4]

Barulina became the center's expert on lentils,[5] eventually classifying them into six groups.[6] Based on the wild species found in association with early cultivars, she postulated that modern cultivated lentils (Lens culinaris) originated from the wild species Lens orientalis.[7]

In 1930, Barulina published a 319-page monograph of her research in Lentils of U.S.S.R. and of other countries as a supplement to the Bulletin of Applied Botany.[8] Her 1930 work became the standard reference for researchers studying lentils.[9][10] It was the first to map the international distribution of different species of lentils.[11]

Barulina later (1937) summarized her lentil research in Volume IV of Flore des Plantes cultivées.[8]

In addition to her scholarly work on lentils, Barulina led major plant-collecting expeditions to Crimea in 1923 and to Georgia in 1933.[12] She also participated in other research at the institute. As one of the institute's leading geneticists, Barulina's research extended beyond work with lentils.[13] The standard author abbreviation "Barulina" is used to indicate her as the author when citing botanical names.[14]

Later years[edit]

Stalin's belief in the agronomical theories of Trofim Lysenko led to Vavilov's arrest and imprisonment in 1941. Lysenko took over the institute. Barulina and her son with Vavilov (Yuri, born 1928) returned to Saratov where they spent the rest of World War II in great poverty. Not knowing that her husband had also been moved to a prison in Saratov, Barulina sent food parcels for him to Moscow, which never reached him.[3]

Vavilov died in 1943 but was rehabilitated in 1955. Barulina was then able to begin work editing his papers for publication, but she died on 9 July 1957.[3]

According to her biographer Margarita Vishnyakova, writing in 2007, Barulina was "a famous scientist, an expert on the genetic resources of cultivated plants. Her works to this day have not lost their relevance and are widely cited in the world scientific literature."[15]


  1. ^ "Author Details". International Plant Names Index. 2005. Retrieved 27 January 2019. Barulina, E.I. (1895-1957)
  2. ^ IPNI.  Barulina.
  3. ^ a b c d Pringle, Peter (2008). The murder of Nikolai Vavilov: the story of Stalin’s persecution of one of the great scientists of the twentieth century. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-6602-1. She was a twenty-two-year-old native of Saratov, named Yelena Barulina…Her father was of peasant origin and had been a manager in the port. Yelena had graduated from Saratov First Women’s Gymnasium in 1913 with a silver medal and was in her third year at the Faculty of Agronomy when Vavilov arrived. As she was a top student, Vavilov would recommend her for postgraduate work and also make her an assistant head of the institute’s experimental seed station.
  4. ^ Cokkizgin, Alihan (2013). "Lentil: Origin, Cultivation Techniques, Utilization and Advances in Transformation". Agricultural Science. 1 (1): 55–62. doi:10.12735/as.v1i1p55. Retrieved 28 January 2019. The most detailed and complete study of the cultivated lentil was made by Barulina (1930).
  5. ^ "Lentils: History through a lens". Crop Trust. 7 December 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2019. Vavilov’s second wife, Elena Barulina, was the leading lentil researcher and made an extensive study of the collection, recognizing the great diversity of the crop and its wild relatives.
  6. ^ Erskine, W (10 May 1997). "Harlan Symposium". The Origins of Agriculture and Crop Domestication. Aleppo, Syria: Bioversity International. Following widespread collecting and evaluation of landraces in the 1920s, Barulina (1930) classified the assembled variation into six groups (grex varietatum), each of which was geographically differentiated and also characterized by a complex of morphological characters, mainly qualitative, common within a group but differing in other groups.
  7. ^ Yadav, Shyam S. (8 September 2007). Lentil: An Ancient Crop for Modern Times. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 4. ISBN 140206313X. [Barulina and others] claimed that L. orientalis is the progenitor of the cultivated species (L. culinaris) based on the fact that the wild species were found in the fields of the farmers where lentil crops were cultivated in the Middle East.
  8. ^ a b Carles, J (1939). "Les lentilles" [Lentils]. Bulletin mensuel de la Société linnéenne de Lyon (in French). 8 (6): 146–153. Retrieved 27 January 2019. Nous utilisons le remarquable ouvrage d’Helena BARULINA: Lentils of U.S.S.R. and of other countries, 1930...Le spécialiste des Lentilles est Mme Helena BARULINA. Dés 1930, elle publiait, en supplément au Bulletin of Applied Botany, un volume de plus de 300 pages sur les Lentilles (Lentils of U.S.S.R. and of other countries) quelle a résumé, en 1937, dans le tome IV de la Flore des Plantes cultivées.
  9. ^ Cokkizgin, Alihan (2013). "Lentil: Origin, Cultivation Techniques, Utilization and Advances in Transformation". Agricultural Science. 1: 55–62. doi:10.12735/as.v1i1p55. Retrieved 27 January 2019. The most detailed and complete study of the cultivated lentil was made by Barulina (1930).
  10. ^ Zohary, Daniel (1972). "The Wild Progenitor and the Place of Origin of the Cultivated Lentil: Lens Culinaris". Economic Botany. 26 (4): 326–332. Retrieved 27 January 2019. Economic botanists still refer to the classic monograph of Barulina (1930) as their standard guide to lentils
  11. ^ Ladizinsky, Gideon; Abbo, Shahal (1990). "Wild lentils of central Asia" (PDF). Wageningen University. Retrieved 27 January 2019. Barulina (1930) was the first to present a map of lentil species distribution, including subsp. orientalis, which was treated by her as an independent species, L. orientalis. That map shows subsp. orientalis to be particularly common in the region between the Amu Dar'ya and Syr Dar'ya rivers of central Asia.
  12. ^ "Biography of Nikolai I. Vavilov: Major Collecting Missions Accomplished by N.I.Vavilov's Associates". Institute of Plant Industry. Retrieved 27 January 2019. 1923 Expedition of E.I.Barulina to Crimea (Ukraine)…1933 Expedition of E.I.Barulina to Georgia (USSR).
  13. ^ Corinto, Gian Luigi (2014). "Nikolai Vavilov's Centers of Origin of Cultivated Plants With a View to Conserving Agricultural Biodiversity". Human Evolution. 29 (4): 285–301. Retrieved 27 January 2019. His wife, Elena Ivanova Barulina, a leading geneticist, made direct comparisons between the samples of vetch and grass pea originating from Iran and discovered that there was such a strong resemblance between them that even experts had difficulty distinguishing the seeds of the two species.
  14. ^ IPNI "Barulina"
  15. ^ Vishnyakova, Margarita (2007). "Милая и прекрасная Леночка" (Елена Барулина - жена и соратница Николая Вавилова) ("Darling and fairy Lenochka..." Elena Barulina - a wife and fellow-fighter of Nicolay Vavilov). Silver age, Saint_Petersburg. ISBN 978-5-902238-40-9. Retrieved 27 January 2019. She was one of the most consistent like-minded N.I. Vavilova, professing in his scientific works his ideas and theories, and became a famous scientist, an expert on the genetic resources of cultivated plants. Her works to this day have not lost their relevance and are widely cited in the world scientific literature.