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История нематологии в России

The term “nematology” was proposed by famous Nathan Cobb, but well before his famous “Contributions to the science of nematology” nematodes were studied as parasites or free-living animals. Several famous Russian naturalists were active in this field. We would like to mention probably one of the most important Russian scientists of the second half of XIX century – Elias (“Yliya” in Russian pronunciation) Mechnikoff, who started immunology as science and obtained one of the first Nobel Prizes. Elias Mechnikoff discovered the development of Rhabdias nematodes through parasitic and free-living generations, when he was still a post-graduate student in Prof. Leikart laboratory in Germany. Working in Southern Russia Mechnikoff discovered infestations of beetles, pests of wheat fields, with entomopathogenic nematodes. Some scientists of this époque of Russian history were interested in parasitic nematodes (Kholodkovskii, Skrjabin), other were active in studies of fresh-water nematodes (Plotnikoff), or investigated nematodes of insects (Jatsentkovskii) but probably first true “nematologist” in Russia was Filipjev, who made so visible contribution to this science. He was proposed to study marine free-living nematodes when being still student of fourth year in St. Petersburg University. Then he spent a summer on Marine Station in Naples collecting free-living marine nematodes in 1898. Personal and scientific life of Filipjev was deeply affected by October revolution in Russia. He was forced by circumstances to flee to the Caucasus provinces from St. Petersburg and then work as entomologist. Happily his most important book “Free-living nematodes of Sevastopol Bay” was published just in the months of October revolution. After 10 years of entomological work in USSR Filipjev returned back to nematology, and concentrated on plant parasitic nematodes. He published in 1934 famous in Russia book “Nematodes harmful and useful in agriculture”. An attempt was made to translate this book into English, but Filipjev was arrested as “enemy of people” just before the final draft of the book was sent to Netherlands. Because of these events quite important “Manual of agricultural nematology” was published under co-authorship with Schuurmans-Stekhoven, who primarily presumed to be Editor of this book but then lost a contact with Russian colleague. Despite all the losses of science nematological studies in Soviet Russia developed. The nematodes of plants were main point of interest during thirties-fifties. Occasionally it was related to an attempt of Soviet government to find a replacement to the natural rubber. Some Compositae plants (related to dandelions) were proposed as a source of such compounds [local Turcomanic names were used for these plants – tau-sagyz and kok-sagyz]. It is happened that plantations of these plants were devastated by nematodes, what stimulated an interest toward plant nematology. Studies in marine nematodes were started again only in sixties. In St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) Dr. Tatiana Platonova started her taxonomic revision of leptosomatids, when in Vladivostok entire nest of nematologists was created by the activity of Prof. Oleg Belogurov. In Moscow University an interest toward the taxonomy of free-living nematodes was initiated by Yuri Frolov, and after his transformation into a journalist, by Vladimir Malakhov. This latter started his studies not from taxonomical questions, but from embryology, and was probably first one who discovered unusually variable early embryonic development of enoplids. Numerous pupils of Professor Malakhov are now forming important part of Russian nematology. Russia is a huge continental country so no wonder that Drs. Semyon Tsalokikhin (Zological Institute in St. Petersbourg) and Vladimir Gagarin (working in Borok near Jaroslavl) are working with fresh-water free-living nematodes. And still the majority of Soviet and now – Russian – nematologists were working on nematodes of plants. Nearly in each former Soviet republic there were specialists in different nematode pests of plants (of cotton in Uzbekistan, of sugar beet in Ukraine etc.). The Plant protection station was an obligatory research institution for each of more than 200 regions and provinces of Soviet Union, and a position of nematologist existed in nearly all of these. So totally several hundreds of researchers in former USSR were staff nematologists and regular “Symposia on nematodes” were held each few year. Soviet nematologists were in tight cooperation with nematologists of other East block countries – especially those from East Germany, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Poland.
The situation changed profoundly in early nineties with the fall of communism. The science both in Russia and newly independent former Soviet republics faced serious decrease in financial support. Though many people are still working in this field the general picture of nematology in former USSR changed a lot. All nematological studies nearly vanished in some former Soviet Central Asia republics: some scientists emigrated, others changed their professions. The number of people working in plant nematology diminished significantly in Baltic states (e.g. only Prof Eino Krall and Marr Rahi are still working in Estonia over plant nematodes – and it is from the group of dozen of people working in 80-ties on potato nematodes), and in lesser scale in Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia. Unexpectedly the number of people working over marine nematodes changed in lesser scale, though many representatives of older generation passed away during last decade (Platonova, Belogurov). Now in Russia one can recognize two centers of marine nematology. One is based in Moscow and related to the activity of Profs. Malakhov and Tchesunov and their students, and another such center is on the Russian Pacific coast (in Vladivostok) and consists of Dr. Yushin, Drs. Daschenko, Fadeeva, Pavlyuk, Zograf and others. Nematology is Russia is trying to find new life style – without stable state support. Plant nematology is still on the research list in the numerous agricultural research institutions: in All-Russian Institute of Plant Protection or VIZR (Dr. Guskova), in Central Institute of Plant Protection near Voronezh ( – Dr. Sergeev), in The Institute of Biocontrol in Krasnodar (– Dr. Ivanova), in the All-Russian Institute of Helminthology (– Dr. Shesteperov), at the Far Eastern Institute of Soil Science ( – Dr. Kazachenko, and others), at the Karelian Institute of Biology - Drs. Gruzdeva and Dr. Elizaveta Matveeva . Several research institutes in Moscow have plant nematologists in their staff list: as it is in Horticulture Institute – Prof. Drozdovskii, or in the Institute of Parasitology – Dr. Zinovieva, Sumenkova and others. Plant nematologists in Russia still have their own special structure inside the Ministry of Agriculture – so called “Nematological Commission”. Russian nematology lost nearly all the possibilities of contacts with colleagues in some former Soviet Republics. It is only rarely as we can see colleagues from Georgia (Prof. Iraklii Eliava), Uzbekistan (Dr. Ochilov), Ukraine (Dr. Holovachov).
And just to finish this list we would like to mention that for more than 10 years a separate group at Moscow University is working on molecular taxonomy of nematodes (Drs. Petrov, Aleshin).
Because of historical and cultural reasons an important part of Russian nematologists is interested in basic problems of nematology, with practical questions moved to the second position. Thus, these are problems of nematode evolution – e.g. the phylogenetic significance of separate embryological, morphological and ultrastructural features in the reconstruction of nematode natural history – which are in the center of attention. Practical problems of nematode control are developed separately from fundamental science, and usually can not meet international standards of scientific quality.
Russian nematological community is seeking way out of modern disastrous situation. More then 20 years ago our Scottish colleague – Dr. Derek Brown stimulated us to start “Russian Journal of Nematology”. This journal is facing now its 21 years of existence, and thanks to permanent efforts of Chief Editors – Prof. Roland Perry and Drs. Sergei Subbotin and Sergei Spiridonov even penetrated international circle of scientific editions. E.g. “Russian Journal of Nematology” has this ‘impact-factor’ – though low (0.3-0.4), this impact factor is reflecting international acceptance of our Journal. Russian nematological community is also organizing the International English-language symposia each two years.
S.E. Spiridonov

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by Dr. Radut.