Bacteria

Evolutionary biology deals with the history of all forms of life, the change from simplicity to complexity, and the causes and driving forces for diversity and evolutionary dynamics of the organic world. The integration of the Darwinian theory of natural selection with genetics has resulted in the "Synthetic Theory of Evolution" (STE) which has become the leading paradigm in evolutionary biology for decades. This synthesis provided the Darwinian concept with the missing component in the mechanism of inheritance. We are living now in an exciting period: during the last 2-3 decades biology seems to have taken the place of leader among the natural sciences. Reductionism based on new methods and technologies resulted in a qualitative increase in understanding life mechanisms, primarily at the molecular and cellular levels, with the next wave of progress being expected from integrative approaches, including systems biology, organismal, population and evolutionary biology. The rapidly changing situation in biology includes a new understanding of genome structure regulation and diversity, growing evidence on the various forms of heritable variation (including epigenetics), revision of evolutionary forces and mechanisms, and organism-environment and evo-devo interplays. All of this knowledge could not be accounted for by the STE, and still remains to be integrated into a new theoretical framework, which calls for an extension of the evolutionary theory.

The uniqueness of the Institute of Evolution lies in its interdisciplinary approaches, unified in the synthetic field of evolutionary biology. The foci of the research include systematics, biodiversity and ecosystem evolution, ecological genetics and genomics, molecular evolution and cytogenetics, evolution of sex and recombination, genome structure and evolution, and bioinformatics. Spatiotemporal physical and biotic ecological stresses are studied as major driving forces of evolutionary dynamics. The research is conducted locally, regionally and globally in natural populations of prokaryotes, fungi, plants (primarily wild cereals, wheat, barley, oats, wild lettuce), animals (primarily insects, such as Drosophila, and mammals such as mole rats, Spalax), and human populations under stress, such as Chernobyl victims.

Paleobotanical data are relevant to the major problems of plant evolution and ecosystem evolution, such as plant phylogeny, origins of higher taxa, parallelism of ontogenetic and phylogenetic sequences, macromorphological systemic transformations, co-evolution and restructuring of terrestrial ecosystems primarily related to the problem of the origins and early evolution of flowering plants.

Many aspects of our basic research are linked or have the potential to be linked to applied research in agriculture, medicine, biotechnology, and industry. This relates to using algae species for monitoring water quality in aquatic ecosystems, assessment of the ecological status of pollinator species, biodiversity of wild progenitors of cultivated crops, as well as genetic mapping, cloning and sequencing of biotic and abiotic stress genes, and biological control of mosquito populations.