Department of Molecular Biodiversity

The Department of Molecular Biodiversity conducts research focusing on cytogenetics, phylogeography and phylogenetics, and the molecular ecology and conservation genetics of various groups of organisms, particularly protists (Paramecium), insects (Orthoptera, Hemiptera, Coleoptera), and birds (Dendrocopos). The department has also initiated similar studies on selected species of mammals (Ovis, Capra) and snails (Caucasotachea). The aim of our studies is to establish the genetic diversity of organisms at different levels (from cellular to taxonomic). Our results are used to test hypotheses on the evolution of taxa in systematic revisions and ecological relations of species and populations.

The biodiversity of the aforementioned groups is analyzed using genetic techniques like DNA sequencing (Sanger and next-generation methods), chromosome staining (C-banding, fluorochromes staining, nucleolus organizer regions location) and fluorescences in situ hybridization.

An important element of our research at the Department of Molecular Biodiversity involves the zoogeography, genetics, evolution, and cytophysiology of Paramecium aurelia species. Research on ciliates involves classical genetic and molecular techniques such as the microinjection of plasmid to the paramecia and gene silencing.The department’s collections include a unique assortment of live strains of the Paramecium aurelia species complex and other species from the Paramecium genus.

Apart from genetic studies, the department also works on projects involving the ecology and conservation biology of birds.

These studies have been conducted in international collaboration with scientists from Bulgaria, France, Finland, Greece, Japan, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, and Italy.

The department’s employees have published more than 160 scientific papers in journals indexed in Journal Citation Reports. The most important scientific achievements of the department include the following:

The department conducts training and teaching activities (training for students, internships for graduates, lectures in doctoral studies) and encourages the popularization of science.