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LABORATORY OF SYSTEMATICS AND EVOLUTION OF PARASITES


Headed by – Sergey E. Spiridonov, Dr. Biol. Sci

The laboratory originates from the Department of morphology and systematics of helminths of the Helminthological Laboratory of USSR Academy of Sciences founded in the 1940s. In 1993–2007, it was a part of the Institute of Parasitology RAS. The prominent Russian parasitologists K.M. Ryzhikov, V.E. Sudarikov, A.A. Shigin, and V.I. Freze worked there in the field of the systematics of Nematoda, Trematoda and Cestoda. Presently, the scientific interests of the researchers of the lab are focused on the systematics and phylogeny of nematodes parasitic to or associated with invertebrates.

The principal research models are entomopathogenic nematodes of the families Heterorhabditidae and Steinernematidae, parasites of arthropods, terrestrial gastropods and oligochaetes. Recently, the studies have been diversified to include nematode parasites of vertebrates, hairworms, and mites.

The latter are mainly carried out in collaboration with other research institutions for the identification of parasitic organisms recovered in various localities and ecosystems in Russia. The integrative approach adopted currently in the lab includes morphological studies using light and scanning microscopy and molecular studies on taxonomically informative sites of a parasite genome. The reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the emergence of the parasitism within the class Nematoda, which is unique in the abundance of clearly related parasitic and free-living forms among other large taxa of Animalia, remains one of the main goals of our research.