The Department of Molecular Biodiversity conducts research focusing on the use of genetic information for understanding of inter- and intra-specific diversity for the chosen species of animals and protists. The research includes issues on cytogenetics, phylogeography and phylogenetics, molecular ecology and conservation genetics. The objects of research are mainly insects (Orthoptera, Hemiptera, Coleoptera), and ciliates (Paramecium), also birds (Aves). Our results are used to test hypotheses concerning: i) the evolution of taxa and systematic revisions, ii) ecological relations of species, populations and environment, iii) origin and diversity of contemporary and subfossil animals, as well as for iv) nature conservation and species protection.
The genetic diversity of the aforementioned groups is analyzed using molecular techniques like DNA sequencing (Sanger and next-generation methods), genotyping (with use of microsatellites and single nucleotide polymorphism), metabarcoding including microbiome analyses, chromosome staining (C-banding, fluorochromes staining, nucleolus organizer regions location) and fluorescences in situ hybridization.
The department’s collections include a unique assortment of live strains of the Paramecium genus, especially the Paramecium aurelia species complex.
The second group of research topics conducted in the Department are projects involving the biodiversity, ecology (community, population, spatial) and conservation biology of animals. These studies are based on field research with the use of modern digital technics (photo traps, thermo-vision etc.). These projects concern both – whole communities of organisms and selected rare and threatened species (e.g. birds, insects). Most of the topics are related to the use of birds or insects as indicators of changes in the environment and their relations to other organisms (like plants).
The department conducts training and teaching activities (training for students, academic internships, lectures in doctoral school) and encourages the popularization of science. Members of the Department are also involved in nature protection (e.g. designation of protected areas and expertizes in planning the protection of endangered species).