Laboratory for the Study of Parasitic Worms and Protists

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Laboratory for the study of parasitic worms and protists was formed in 2016, uniting zoologists thoroughly examining protists, lower multicellular animals, and crustaceans — parasites humans, animals, and plants. In the Zoological Institute, these directions were founded by works of an outstanding zoologist and parasitologist, corresponding member of the Academy of sciences of the USSR, winner of the Lenin prize V.A. Dogel and academician B.E. Bykhovsky.

In 2010-2020, the staff of the laboratory had conducted a wide spectrum of different studies on thee estimation of biodiversity, evolutionary trends, taxonomy, phylogeny, zoogeography, and analysis of interrelations in host-parasite systems in relation to many taxa of parasitic protists, monogeneans, trematodes, cestodes, nematodes, acanthocephalans, and crustaceans. A new type of protists, parasites of algae, Aphelida, a type of a new superphylum, Opisthosporidia, which forms a sister branch to the entire kingdom of fungi. During studies of unusual chytrids (Chytridiomycota), sanchytrids, a new branch with the rank of phylum was discovered within the kingdom of fungi. Species composition of multi-component microbe symbiotic consortium of the giant archamoeba Pelomyxa palustris, responsible for the methanogenic metabolism of the host, was determined for the first time. Secondary evolutionary transition from dixenic (two hosts) to monoxenic (one host) cycle was revealed for the first time in tripanosomatids, agents of many dangerous diseases of humans, animals, and plants. Regularities in the parasite transmission in coastal areas of the Arctic were determined and a forecast of possible influence of climatic changes on this process was provided. Species composition of some helminths from marine birds of the North Atlantic and North Pacific was clarified with the use of molecular-genetic methods and life cycles of these helminths were decoded. The main evolutionary trends in parthenogenetic generations of trematodes that had provided the biological progress of the taxon were revealed on the basis of the original data on their fine structure. Species composition of the fauna (36 species) of phytopathogenic xylophilous nematodes was determined and phylogeny and stages of the formation and evolutionary host-parasite interrelations of these nematodes from micophagans was deciphered. It has been demonstrated that exploitation of new plants by nematodes occurred mainly by horizontal transition and not as a result of cospeciation with hosts. Sites connecting the interna of Rhizocephala with the host nervous system were revealed for the first time, enlightening mechanisms of control of crustacean host behavior by the parasite.


20 employees (16 researchers, 3 collection keepers, 1 research intern).

Kirill V. Galaktionov (Head of Laboratory, Principal Researcher, Professor, Doctor of Biological Sciences)

Ludmila V. Chistyakova (Senior Researcher, Candidate of Biological Sciences)

Aleksandra V. Diumina (Research Intern)

Daniil D. Fedorov (Senior Collection Keeper)

Alexander O. Frolov (Principal Researcher, Doctor of Biological Sciences)

Alexander K. Galkin (Senior Collection Keeper, Candidate of Biological Sciences)

Anna I. Ganyukova (Junior Researcher)

Anna G. Gonchar (Junior Researcher)

Sergei A. Karpov (Principal Researcher, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor)

Ivan A. Levakin (Senior Researcher, Candidate of Biological Sciences)

Marina N. Malysheva (Senior Researcher, Candidate of Biological Sciences)

Aleksei A. Miroliubov (Senior Researcher, Candidate of Biological Sciences)

Valeria I. Mikhalevich (Leading Researcher, Doctor of Biological Sciences)

Irina M. Podvyaznaya (Senior Researcher, Candidate of Biological Sciences)

Kristina S. Polyanina (Junior Researcher)

Alexander Yu. Ryss (Principal Researcher, Doctor of Biological Sciences)

Boris S. Shulman (Senior Collection Keeper, Candidate of Biological Sciences)

Petr A. Smirnov (Junior Researcher)

Anna I. Solovyeva (Researcher, Candidate of Biological Sciences)

Anna A. Vinogradova (Junior Researcher)

Topic of State Assignment

“Biodiversity of parasites, their life cycles, biology, and evolution”
PI: Head of Laboratory, Doctor of Biological Sciences K.V. Galaktionov
No. 122031100260-0

Laboratory collections

Collection of parasitic worms goes back to the collection of the Chamber of Curiosities (Kunstkammer) of Peter I (collections of P.S. Pallas and I.T. Kolreiter). At present it includes more than 65 000 collection units (samples) (monogeneans, trematodes, cestodes, and phytonematodes) and is constantly replenished. Laboratory possesses the collection of parasitic crustaceans, and also nematodes from permafrost cryogenic soils of the Arctic and Antarctica. Collection fund of protists includes about 30 000 slides. The unique bank of alive cultures of parasitic protists (about 500 isolates) was created in the laboratory; this bank is constantly replenished. In 2018, a cryogenic module of the bank had started its work, allowing formation of the DNA bank of parasitic unicellular eukaryotes.

Main publications of the Laboratory staff

Frolov A.O., Malysheva M.N., Ganyukova A.I., Spodareva V.V., Králová J., Yurchenko V., Kostygov A.Y. 2020. If host is refractory, insistent parasite goes berserk: trypanosomatid Blastocrithidia raabei in the dock bug Coreus marginatus. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0227832.

Frolov A.O., Malysheva M.N., Ganyukova A.I., Yurchenko V., Kostygov A.Y. 2018. Obligate development of Blastocrithidia papi (Trypanosomatidae) in the Malpighian tubules of Pyrrhocoris apterus (Hemiptera) and coordination of host-parasite life cycles. Plos One. 0204467.

Podvyaznaya I.M., Galaktionov K.V. 2018. Reproduction of trematodes in the molluscan host: an ultrastructural study of the germinal mass and brood cavity in daughter rediae of Tristriata anatis Belopolskaia, 1953 (Digenea: Notocotylidae). Parasitology Research 117(8): 2643–2652.

Ryss A.Y., Polyanina K.S. 2018. Characterization of juvenile stages of Bursaphelenchus crenati Rühm, 1956 (Nematoda: Aphelenchoidoidea). Journal of Nematology 50: 459‒472

Galaktionov K.V. 2017. Patterns and processes influencing helminth parasites of Arctic coastal communities during climate change. Journal of Helminthology 91: 387–408.

Miroliubov A.A. 2017. Muscular system in interna of Peltogaster paguri (Rhizocephala: Peltogastridae). Arthropod structure & development 46(2): 230–235.

Ryss A.Yu., Subbotin S.A. 2017. Coevolution of wood-inhabiting nematodes of the genus Bursaphelenchus Fuchs, 1937 with their insect vectors and plant hosts. Zhurnal Obshchey Biologii 78(3): 32-61. [Russian]

Galaktionov K.V. 2016. (Ed.) Coevolution of Parasites and Hosts. St. Petersburg: Zoological Institute RAS. 386 p. (Proceedings of the Zoological Institute RAS 320. Supplement 4). [Russian]

Karpov S.A., Mamkaeva M.A., Aleoshin V.V., Nassonova E., Lilje O., Gleason F.H. 2014. Morphology, phylogeny, and ecology of the aphelids (Aphelidea, Opisthokonta) and proposal for the new superphylum Opisthosporidia. Frontiers in Microbiology 5: 112.

Galaktionov K.V., Dobrovolskij A.A. 2003, 2013. The Biology and Evolution of Trematodes: an Essay on the Biology, Morphology, Life Cycles, Transmission, and Evolution of Digenetic Trematodes. Boston, Dordrecht, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003; Springer Science + Business Media B.V., 2013. 592 p.

Levakin I.A., Nikolaev K.E., Galaktionov K.V. 2013. Long-term variation in trematode (Trematoda, Digenea) component communities associated with intertidal gastropods is linked to abundance of final hosts. Hydrobiologia 706(1): 103–118.

Mikhalevich V.I. 2013 Post-Cambrian testate Foraminifera as a system in its evolution. Animal Science, Issues and Professions. USA, New York: Nova Science Publishers. 426p.

Karpov S.A. (Ed.) 2011. Protista: Handbook of Zoology. Part 3. Moscow: KMK Scientific Press Ltd., 501 p. [Russian]

Krylov M.V., Frolov A.O. (Eds.) 2007. Protista: Handbook of Zoology. Part 2. St. Petersburg: Nauka-SPb. 1144 p. [Russian]

Karpov S.A. 2005. Classification of protists: history and present. St. Petersburg: Tessa. 72 p. [Russian]

Laboratory staff participate in the following grants

RSF No. 18-14-00170. “Effect of ecosystem transformations on transmission of parasites in nearshore areas of the Arctic seas: retrospective analysis and prospects” (PI K.V. Galaktionov).

RSF No. 18-14-00134. “Development of a phylogenetically coordinated model of the evolution of life cycles in parasitic flagellates of the order Trypanosomatida” (PI A.O. Frolov).

RSF No. 16-14-10302. “Genetic and morphological diversity of opisthosporidians and chytridiomycetes as a key to the ancestor of Fungi” (PI S.A. Karpov).

RFBR No. 20-04-00569_а. “Evolution, phylogeny and the ways of life cycle alteration of the wood and bark inhabiting nematodes (Nematoda: Rhabditida: Tylenchina and Rhabditina) during natural and anthropogenic transformation of ecosystems” (PI A.Yu. Ryss).

RFBR No. 18-34-00867_mol_a. “The study of trypanosomatid biodiversity (Kinetoplastea: Trypanosomatidae) — parasites of brachycerous diptera species (Insecta: Brachycera) dominants in Eurasian boreal region” (PI A.I. Ganyukova).

RFBR No. 18-04-01314_а. “The kinetid structure of flagellated cells of larvae as a phylogenetic marker in the Porifera systematics” (PI S.A. Karpov).

RFBR No. 18-04-00138_a. “Trypanosomatids and their prokaryotic endosymbionts: cophylogeny and a diversity of symbiotic associations” (PI A.O. Frolov).

RFBR No. 17-304-50015_ mol_nr. “Study of the ultrastructure of kinetid in the larvae cells of sponges as a phylogenetic marker” (PI S.A. Karpov).

RFBR No 16-04-00753_а. “How is trematode transmission regulated at the polar sea coasts? Testing ecological factors relevant to climate oscillations” (PI K.V. Galaktionov).

RFBR No. 16-34-50010_mol_nr. “Study of choanocyte kinetid of sponges as a phylogenetic marker Demospongiae” (PI S.A. Karpov).

RFBR No. 15-04-03324_а. “Trends of choanocyte kinetid formation in sponges in relation to the origin of Metazoa” (PI S.A. Karpov).

RFBR No. 15-29-02734_ofi_m. “Culture collection as a basis of the study of parasitic protists biodiversity of Russia” (PI S.A. Karpov).

RFBR No. 15-04-00396_a. “A comprehensive analysis of cytobiontic communities of the archamoebas (Amoebozoa, Archamoebae)” (PI A.O. Frolov).