Evaluation of the diversity of microflora species in the pelagial of Lake Baikal

Limnological Insitute, SB RAS, Irkutsk

Head of the Institute:

Mikhail A.Grachev, Corresponding Member of RAS, Profeccor
P.O. Box 4199, Irkutsk-33, 664033, Russia
Tel.: (3952) 460504
Fax: (3952) 460405
email: info@lin.irk.ru

Principal researchers:

Ye.V.Likhoshway, Dr. LIN RAS SB, Irkutsk, Russia
G.I.Popovskaya, Professor LIN RAS SB, Irkutsk, Russia
.I.Belykh Dr. LIN RAS SB, Irkutsk, Russia
A.I.Tanichev, Dr. LIN RAS SB, Irkutsk, Russia
..Sherbakova, LIN RAS SB, Irkutsk, Russia
S.I.Genkal, Professor Institute of Biology of Inland Waters,
RAS, Borok, Yaroslavl, Russia
R.Crawford, Dr., Alfred Wegener Intstitute for Polar and Marine Reseach, Bremerhaven, Germany
R.Jahn, Dr. Botanical Museum, Berlin, Germany
D.Lazarus, Dr. Museum of Natural History, Berlin, Germany

Project objectives

The purpose of the present project is evaluation of the species diversity of planktonic microalgae of Lake Baikal by a team consisting of Russian and European scientists. Expected results are the following: (i) a list of speacies of plaktonic microalgae of Lake Baikal; (ii) a collection of specimens of micralgae of Lake Baikal according to international standards having a official status; (iii) a computer database on the diversity of species of planktonic microalgae of Lake Baikal including sequences of some of their genes.

Evaluation of the diversity of species will include a review of the diversity in the past and analysis of biodiversity at present. The collection and the database will be structured in such a way that it could serve to detect changes of biodiversity in the future.

Background and significance of objectives

An important reason for the inclusion of Lake Baikal into the List of World Heritage of UNESCO was its unique endemic complex of aquatic organisms. Lake Baikal appeared ca. 25 mln. years before present. It was not covered by ice sheets during global glaciations. Its long existence as a deep, isolated water body resulted in evolution of the microflora which gave rise to the modern complex including endemic species as the dominating algae.

Conservation of the biodiversity of Lake Baikal is an important task which can be solved on the prerequisite that we know the biodiversity of the present - if we are going to protect biodiversity, we have to know what in particular has to be protected. A major part of the extant phytoplankton of Lake Baikal are endemic organisms (Meyer, 1930; Popovskaya, 1991). An inventory of biodiversity should include a list of species, keys which make it possible to identify species, data on their morphological variability and data on their annual and seasonal dynamics.

A huge amount of information has been collected up to this date on the biodiversity of the phytoplankton of open Baikal. A few lists of species have been published. Data of long-term observations on the seasonal and annual dynamics of the phytoplankton of Lake Baikal have been obtained. A few new species have been described. Morphology of some of these species has been studied in detail by means of electron microscopy. Variability of the ultrastructural features of the leading species has been studied by quantitative methods. Data on the biodiversity of phytoplankton of Lake Baikal have been collected during more than 150 years, beginning from the first publication by a German scientist Ehrenberg of 1843. However, evaluation of this biodiversity for the practical purpose of its conservation still remains a difficult problem.

First of all, the published lists of phytoplankton of Lake Baikal have to be reconsidered because some algae received new names and systematic positions. A few specie were identified erroneously, because only light microscopy was applied (e.g. Nitzschia acicularis).

Secondly, there is no modern atlas or treatise summarizing new data on the structure of planktonic algae of Lake Baikal and new data on their taxonomic position, and biologists have to use the monograph of Skabichevskiy published in 1960 - the numerous data of different authors concerning systematics, taxonomy and morphology of planktonic algae of Lake Baikal are scattered in papers published in different journals and brochures. These data have to be united into a single monographic survey. Moreover, it is necessary it revise some systematic groups of planktonic algae of Lake Baikal, because new important publications on the general systematics and taxonomy of algae appeared (Diatomovie vodorosli SSSR 1988, 1992; Krammer, Lange-Bertalot, 1988, 1991; Round, Crawford, Mann, 1990; Krammer, 1991a, 1991b, etc.)

Thirdly, it is impossible to compare specimens of algae which were collected recently with those described earlier, because there is no archive or collection of permanent preparations of planktonic algae of Lake Baikal which is available to the international scientific community.

Hence, evaluation of the biodiversity of planktonic algae of Lake Baikal, as part of quantitative evaluation of the diversity of its unique flora and fauna in general is an important problem. An advantage of the present project is the proposed close co-operation with curators of the oldest European collections of microalgae, which has already yielded promising preliminary results.

Research plan: approaches and methods

Methods of electron and light microscopy; epifluorescent microscopy; cultivation of microalgae; methods of molecular biology and DNA sequencing, including amplification and sequencing of DNA obtained from individual algae cells; computer data bases.

Expected results

List of publications of participants related to the project

 

 

Epifluorescence microscopy. Autofluorescence (red fluorescence) of picocyanobacterial cells of strain Synechocystis sp., BAC 9721 under green excitation. X 1250.

 

Epifluorescence microscopy. Cells of picocyanobacteria of strain Synechococcus sp., BAC 9818. X 1250.

 

Epifluorescence microscopy. Cells of picocyanobacteria of strain Synechococcus sp., BAC 9808 under green excitation. X 1250.

 

Epifluorescence microscopy. Autofluorescence (red fluorescence) of picocyanobacterial cells of strain Synechococcus sp., BAC 9807 under green excitation. X 1250.