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.