Laboratory of relict microbial communities


Nikolay V. Pimenov
Professor, Dr. Sci. (Biology)
Head of Laboratory
Deputy Director
INMI, room 201


Телефон +7 (499) 135-21-39

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. Epicontinental soda lake are probable relict biotopes of terrestrial biota formation. Microbiology (RU). 1993, v. 62, p. 473–479.
  2. Zavarzin G.A. Lectures in natural microbiology. М.: Nauka, 2004. (in Russian).
  3. Zavarzin G.A. The first ecosystems on Earth. p. 230–244 In: Problems on the origin of life. (eds. А.Yu. Rozanov, А.V. Lopatin, S.N. Snitnikov – М.: PIN RAN, 2009. (in Russian).
  4. Ulyanova M., Sivkov V., Kanapatskij T., Sigalevich P., Pimenov N. Methane fluxes in the southeastern Baltic Sea. Geo-Marine Letters. 2012. v. 32, Iss. 5-6, p. 535-544. (DOI: 10.1007/s00367-012-0304-0)
  5. Kallistova A.Yu., Pimenov N.V., Kozlov M.N., Nikolaev Yu.A., Dorofeev A.G., Aseeva V.G., Grachev V.A., Men’ko E.V., Berestovskaya Yu.Yu., Nozhevnikova A.N., Kevbrina M.V. Microbial composition of the activated sludge of Moscow wastewater treatment plants. Microbiology (RU). 2014, v. 83, № 5, p. 699-708 (DOI: 10.1134/S0026261714050154)
  6. Agarev A.M., Dorofeev A.G., Kallistova A.Yu., Kevbrina M.V., Kozlov M.N., Nikolaev Yu.A., Pimenov N.V. Development of the first Russian anammox-based technology for nitrogen removal from wastewater. pp. 699-707. In: Proceedings of the Scientific-Practical Conference “Research and Development – 2016”. K.V. Anisimov, A.V. Dub, S.K. Kolpakov, A.V. Lisitsa, A.N. Petrov, V.P. Polukarov, O.S. Popel, V.A. Vinokurov (Eds.), 1st ed. 2018, Book chapter 73.
  7. Nikolaev Yu., Kallistova A., Kevbrina M., Dorofeev A., Agarev A., Mardanov A., Ravin N., Kozlov M., Pimenov N. Novel design and optimisation of a nitritation/anammox setup for ammonium removal from filtrate of digested sludge. Environ. Technol. 2018. v. 39. No. 5. p. 593–606. (DOI: 10.1080/09593330.2017.1308442)
  8. Kallistova A.Yu., Savvichev A.S., Rusanov I.I., Pimenov N.V. Thermokarst lakes, ecosystems with intense microbial processes of the methane cycle. Microbiology (RU). 2019, v. 88, № 6, p. 649-661 (DOI: 10.1134/S0026261719060043)
  9. Zhilina T.N., Zavarzina D.G., Panteleeva A.N., Osipov G.A., Kostrikina N.A., Tourova T.P., Zavarzin G.A. Fuchsiella alkaliacetigena gen. nov., sp. nov., an alkaliphilic, lithoautotrophic homoacetogen from a soda lake. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 2012. v. 62, Iss. 7, p. 1666-1673 (DOI: 10.1099/ijs.0.034363-0)
  10. Kevbrin V., Boltynskaya Y., Zhilina T., Kolganova T., Lavrentjeva E., Kuznetsov B. Proteinivorax tanatarense gen. nov., sp. nov., an anaerobic, haloalkaliphilic, proteolytic bacterium isolated from a decaying algal bloom, and proposal of Proteinivoraceae fam. nov. Extremophiles. 2013. v. 17, Iss. 5, p. 747-756 (DOI: 10.1007/s00792-013-0557-1)
  11. Kevbrin V.V. Isolation and cultivation of alkaliphiles. pp. 1-32. In: Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 2019. (DOI: 10.1007/10_2018_84)
  12. Kevbrin V., Boltyanskaya Y., Grouzdev D., Koziaeva V., Park M., Cho J-C. Natronospirillum operosum gen. nov., sp. nov., a haloalkaliphilic satellite isolated from decaying biomass of a laboratory culture of cyanobacterium Geitlerinema sp. and proposal of Natronospirillaceae fam. nov., Saccharospirillaceae fam. nov., and Gynuellaceae fam. nov. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 2020. v. 70, Iss. 1, p.511-521. (DOI: 10.1099/ijsem.0.003781)
  13. Berestovskaya Ju.Ju., Kotsyurbenko O.R., Tourova T.P., Kolganova T.V., Doronina N.V., Golyshin P.N., Vasylieva L.V. Methylorosula polaris gen. nov., sp. nov., a new aerobic facultatively methylotrophic psychrotolerant bacterium from tundra wetland soil. Int. J. Syst. Environ. Microbiol. 2012. v. 62, Iss. 3, p. 638-646. (DOI: 10.1099/ijs.0.007005-0)
  14. Zaichikova M.V., Berestovskaya Yu.Yu., Kuznetsov B.B., Vasil’eva L.V. Spirosoma xylofaga sp. nov., an oligotrophic pleomorphic bacterium from a myco-bacterial community of freshwater ecosystems. Microbiology (RU). 2013, v. 82, № 4, p. 459-465 (DOI: 10.1134/S0026261713040152)
  15. Vasilyeva L.V. The amazing world of microbes and microbiologists. The bulletin of BiSMiS. 2013. v. 4, Iss. 1, p. 19–41.
  16. Samylina O.S., Sapozhnikov Ph.V., Gainanova О.Yu., Ryabovа А.V., Nikitin M.А., Sorokin D.Yu. Alga-bacterial communities of soda lakes of Kulunda steppe (Altai krai, Russia). Microbiology (RU). 2015. v. 84, №1, p. 107-119. (in Russian)
  17. Sapozhnikov Ph.V., Kalinina O.Yu., Nikitin M.A., Samylina O.S. Cenoses of phototrophic algae of ultrasaline lakes in the Kulunda steppe (Altai krai, Russian Federation). Oceanology. 2016. v. 56, №1, p. 95-106. (DOI: 10.1134/S0001437016010173)
  18. Namsaraev Z., Samylina O., Sukhacheva M., Borisenko G., Sorokin D., Tourova T. Effect of salinity on diazotrophic activity and microbial composition of phototrophic communities from Bitter-1 soda lake (Kulunda Steppe, Russia). Extremophiles. 2018. v. 22, №4, p. 651–663. (DOI: 10.1007/s00792-018-1026-7)
  19. Samylina O.S. Use of morphology of halophilic and alkaliphilic cyanobacteria as a criterion for detection of soda conditions in the past. Paleontological Journal. 2018. v. 52, № 10, p. 1162-1171. (DOI: 10.1134/S003103011810012X)

Researches Drs L.V. Vasilieva and T.N. Zhilina are many years authors of many chapters in Bergey’s Manual of Systematics of Archaea and Bacteria.