Laboratory of relict microbial communities

НВПименов_2 Nikolay V. Pimenov
Professor, Dr. Sci. (Biology)
Head of Laboratory
Deputy Director
INMI, room 501
Телефон +7 (499) 135-12-29, ext. 705

The Laboratory was founded in 1960, and Georgy A. Zavarzin (1933‑2011), a soon-to-be academician of RAS, headed it. For half a century, he was its leader and mastermind of many fields of environmental microbiology. The study of novel and difficult-to-culture lithotrophic microorganisms (hydrogen- and CO-oxidizing, nitrifying, sulfur-, iron-, and manganese-oxidizing, iron-reducing, hydrogenotrophic methanogenic Archaea, and, later, various groups of extremophilic microorganisms, including thermo-, halo-, alkali-, psychro-, acidi-, and ombrophilic contributed significantly to improving our knowledge of the functional biodiversity of microbial life, as well as let us gain a clearer understanding of the main role of microbial communities both in formation and functioning of the modern biosphere on our planet. Concurrently with pure microbial cultures, interactions between microorganisms in biocoenoses, where metabolic and syntrophic relationships play a crucial role, were of high priority. Most clearly these relationships manifest themselves in anaerobic microbial communities involved in the destruction of organic matter resulting in the formation of methane with the participation of a wide range of bacteria and Archaea.

Prof. Dr. Nikolay Pimenov became Head of the Laboratory in 2012. Nowadays, the main research areas, including functional diversity of microbial life, role of microorganisms in the processes occurring in the ancient biosphere (biosphere origin and evolution), as well as of contemporary biosphere (ecophysiological role of bacteria and their involvement in the formation of the atmosphere and influence on the composition of marine and terrestrial water ecosystems), established by Academician Georgy A. Zavarzin are under active development in the Laboratory.

Fundamental knowledge of the functioning of microbial communities in marine and freshwater habitats made it possible for the Laboratory team to take active part in various projects focusing on the use of microorganisms for sewage treatment. Under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Pimenov, a 20-m3 pilot unit was brought into operation at Lyuberetsky WWTP (Mosvodokanal MPUE) providing efficient ammonium removal by unique ANNAMOX-bacteria. In addition, new methods for biofiltration of wastewaters from iron-and-steel works and removal of heavy metals by using a consortium of sulfate-reducing bacteria are currently under development.


Selected publications:

  1. Zavarzin G.A., Nozhevnikova A.N. CO oxidizing bacteria. p. 207-214. In: Microbial production and utilization of gases. (Eds. H.G. Schlegel, G. Gottschalk, N. Pfennig), Gottingen, 1975.
  2. Zavarzin G.A. Sergei N. Winogradsky and the discovery of chemosynthesis. pp. 17-32. In: Autotrophic bacteria. (Eds. H.G. Schlegel, B. Bowien), Science Tech Publishers, Springer-Verlag, 1989.
  3. Zhilina T.N., Zavarzin G.A. Extremely halophilic, methylotrophic, anaerobic bacteria. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 1990, 87:315-322.
  4. Svetlichny V.A., Sokolova T.G., Gerhardt M., Kostrikina N.A., Zavarzin G.A. Anaerobic extremely thermophilic caroxydotrophic bacteria in hydrotherms of Kuryl islands. Microb. Ecol. 1991, 21:1-10.
  5. Kevbrin V.V., Zavarzin G.A. Methanethiol utilization and sulfur reduction by anaerobic halophilic saccharolytic bacteria. Curr. Microbiol. 1992, 24:247-250.
  6. Zhilina T.N., Zavarzin G.A., Bulygina E.S., Kevbrin V.V., Osipov G.A., Chumakov K.M. Ecology, physiology and taxonomy studies on a new taxon of Haloanaerobiaceae, Haloincola saccharolytica gen. nov., sp. nov. Syst. Appl. Microbiol. 1992, 15:275-284.
  7. Zavarzin G.A. Epicontinental soda lakes are probable relict biotopes of terrestrial biota formation. Microbiology (English translation of Mikrobiologiya), 1993, 62:473-470.
  8. Kotsyurbenko O.R., Nozhevnikova A.N., Zavarzin G.A. Methanogenic degradation of organic matter by anaerobic bacteria at low temperature. Chemosphere, 1993, 27(9):1745-1761.
  9. Nozhevnikova A.N., Lifshitz A.B., Lebedev V.S., Zavarzin G.A. Emission of methane into the atmosphere from landfills in the former USSR. Chemosphere, 1993, 26(1-4):401-417.
  10. Zavarzin G.A., Nozhevnikova N.A. Landfills and waste deposits producing greenhouse gases. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 1993, 4:356-362.
  11. Zhilina T.N., Zavarzin G.A. Alkaliphilic anaerobic community at pH 10. Curr. Microbiol. 1994, 28:109-112.
  12. Zavarzin G.A. Cyanobacterial mats in general biology. p. 443-452. In: Microbial mats: structure, development and environmental significance. (Eds. Stal L.J., Caumette P.), NATO ASI series / Ecological sciences. Springer, 1994.
  13. Zavarzin G.A., Zhilina T.N., Pusheva M.A. Halophilic acetogenic bacteria. p. 432-444. In: Acetogenesis. (Ed. H.L. Drake), Chapman&Hall, 1994.
  14. Rainey F.A., Zhilina T.N., Boulygina E.S., Stackebrandt E., Tourova T.P., Zavarzin G.A. The taxonomic status of the fermentative halophilic anaerobic bacteria: Description of Haloanaerobiales ord. nov., Halobacteroidaceae fam. nov., Orenia gen. nov. and further taxonomic rearrangements at the genus and species level. Anaerobe, 1995, 1:185-199.
  15. Tourova T.P., Boulygina E.S., Zhilina T.N., Hanson R.S., Zavarzin G.A. Phylogenetic study of haloanaerobic bacteria by 16S ribosomal RNA sequences analysis. Syst. Appl. Microbiol., 1995, 18:189-195.
  16. Zavarzin G.A. Soehngen psychrophilic cycle. Ecol. Chem., 1995, 4:3-12.
  17. Zavarzin G.A., The microorganisms: the concept in need of clarification or one now to be rejected? P. 17-25. In: Microbial diversity and ecosystem function. (Eds. Allsop D., Colwell R. R.). CABI, 1995.
  18. Kotsyurbenko O.R.,  Nozhevnikova A.N.,  Soloviova T.I.,  Zavarzin G.A. Methanogenesis at low temperatures by microflora of tundra wetland soil. Ant. van Leeuwenhoek, 1996, 69:75-86.
  19. Zhilina T.N.,  Zavarzin G.A., Rainey F., Kevbrin V.V., Kostrikina N.A., Lysenko A.M. Spirochaeta alkalica sp.nov., Spirochaeta africana sp.nov., Spirochaeta asiatica sp.nov., alkaliphilic anaerobes from the continental soda lakes in Central Asia and the East African Rift. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol., 1996, 46:305-312.
  20. Zhilina T.N., Zavarzin G.A., Rainey F.A., Pikuta E.N., Osipov G.A., Kostrikina N.A. Desulfonatronovibrio hydrogenovorans gen. nov., sp. nov., an alkaliphilic sulfate-reducing bacterium. Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol., 1997, 47:144-149.
  21. Gerasimenko L., Zavarzin G.A., Rozanov A.Yu., Ushatinskaya G.T. Cyanobacterial mats and mineralization of cyanobacteria. p. 254-263. In: SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3441. Instruments, Methods and Missions for Astrobiology, (Ed. R.B. Hoover), 1998.
  22. Rozanov A.Yu., Zavarzin G.A. Bacterial paleontology. p.218-224. In: SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3441. Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology, (Ed. R.B. Hoover), 1998.
  23. Zavarzin G.A., Zhilina T.N., Kevbrin V.V. The alkaliphilic microbial community and its functional diversity. Microbiology (English translation of Mikrobiologiya), 1999, 68:503-521.
  24. Zavarzin G.A., Zhilina T.N. Anaerobic chemotrophic alkaliphiles. p. 191-208. In: Journey to Diverse Microbial Worlds – Adaptation to Exotic Environments (Ed. J. Seckbach), Kluwer Academic Publishers. The Netherlands. 2001.
  25. Zavarzin G.A. Diversity of cyanobacterial mats. P. 141-150. In: Fossil and recent biofilms. A natural history of life on Earth. (Eds. W.E. Krumbein, D.M. Paterson, G.A. Zavarzin), Kluver Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 2003.
  26. Zavarzin G.A. Bacterial paleontology from the neontologist point of view. p. 1-9. In: SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4939. Instruments, Methods and Missions for Astrobiology VI, (Eds. R.B. Hoover, A.Y. Rozanov, J.H. Lipps), 2003
  27. Franck S.A., Zavarzin G.A. What are the necessary conditions for origin of life and subsequent planetary life-support systems? P. 73-90. In: Earth System Analysis for Sustainability. Dahlem Workshop Reports. (Eds. H.J. Schellnhuber, P.J. Crutzen, W.C. Clark, M. Claussen, H. Held), The MIT Press, Cambridge, UK. 2004.
  28. Kevbrin V.V., Romanek C.S., Wiegel J. 2004. Alkalithermophiles: A double challenge from extreme environments. P.395-412. In: J. Seckbach (ed.), Origins: Genesys, Evolution and the Biodiversity of Life, COLE Book Series, Vol. 6, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.
  29. Zavarzin G.A. Recent microbiology and Precambrian paleontology. p. 201-216. In: Perspectives in Astrobiology. NATO Science Series: Life and Behavioural Sciences, Vol. 366, (Eds R.B. Hoover, A. Yu. Rosanov, K. Paepe), IOS Press, Amsterdam, 2005.
  30. Zavarzina D.G., Kolganova T.V., Bouligina E.S., Kostrikina N.A., Tourova T.P., Zavarzin G.A. 2006. Geoalkalibacter ferrihydriticus gen. nov., sp. nov., the first alkaliphilic representative of the family Geobacteraceae, isolated from a soda lake. Microbiology (English translation of Mikrobiologiya) 78:723-731.
  31. Zavarzin G.A. Microbial cycles. pp. 2335-2341. In: Global Ecology. (Eds. S.E. Jorgensen and B.D. Fath) Encyclopedia of Ecology, Vol.3, Oxford: Elsevier, 2008.
  32. Zavarzin G.A. Microbial biosphere. p. 25-42. In: Biosphere Origin and Evolution. (Eds. N. Dobretsov, N. Kolchanov, A. Rozanov, G. Zavarzin), Springer, Science + Business Media LLC, 2008.
  33. Zavarzin G.A. First ecosystems on Earth. Paleontological J., 2010, V.44, №7, р. 870-879.
  34. Zhilina T.N., Zavarzina D.G., Panteleeva A.N., Osipov GA., Kostrikina NA., Tourova T.P., Zavarzin G.A. Fuchsiella alkaliacetigena gen. nov., sp. nov., the first alkaliphilic, lithoautotrophic homoacetogenic bacterium. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol., 2012, 62:1666-1673.
  35. Ulyanova M., Sivkov V., Kanapatskij T., Sigalevich P., Pimenov N. Methane fluxes in the southeastern Baltic Sea. Geo-Marine Lett., 2012, 32:535-544.
  36. Zavarzina D.G., Zhilina T.N., Kuznetsov B.B., Kolganova T.V., Osipov G.A., Kotelev M.S., Zavarzin G.A. Natranaerobaculum magadiense gen. nov., sp. nov., an anaerobic, alkalithermophilic bacterium from soda lake sediment. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol., 2013, 63:4456-4461.
  37. Kevbrin V., Boltyanskaya Y., Zhilina T., Kolganova T., Lavrentjeva E., Kuznetsov B. 2013. Proteinivorax tanatarense gen. nov., sp. nov., an anaerobic, haloalkaliphilic, proteolytic bacterium isolated from a decaying algal bloom, and proposal of Proteinivoraceae fam. nov. Extremophiles 17:747–756.
  38. Pimenov N.V., Kalmychkov G.V., Viryasov M.B., Sigalevich P.A., Zemskaya T.I. Microbial oxidation of methane in the sediments of Central and Southern Baikal. Microbiology, 2014, 83:773-781.
  39. Yu.A.Nikolaev, M.N.Kozlov, M.V. Kevbrina, A.G. Dorofeev, V.G. Aseeva, N.V. Pimenov, A.V. Zharkov Study of the low temperature anoxic ammonia oxidation feasibility. 2015. Water Practice & Techn. V.10(1). P.172-177.