The Laboratory of Parasitic worms became a separate entity of the Institute in 1989. The staff includes 11 people, of whom 10 are scientists and 1 is technician.
The Laboratory studies the systematics, phylogeny, and zoogeography of various groups of parasitic worms and copepods, and the use of parasitological data for the reconstruction of the formation of the parasitofauna of various host groups. These studies focus on monogeneans, cestodes of birds, trematodes of bats, udonellids, phytonematodes, parasites of fishes. In the past few years, the Laboratory has been involved in creating computer generated data bases for use in research. Recently, a data base on the cestode collection has been completed. The Laboratory's collection includes tens of thousands of specimens and is regularly enriched with material from expeditions to different parts of Russia and to countries abroad. T. A. Timofeeva is the Curator of the Laboratory's collections.
Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences has its modern status since 1930. Previous to this date it existed as the Zoological Museum. Although the separate Laboratory of Parasitic Worms was organized in it only in 1935, the study and collecting of helminths by the contributors of the Russian Academy of Sciences has a much longer history and dates back since the middle of the 18-th century. Helminthological materials have been already presented in the first Russian museum, Kunstkammer - the direct ancestor of the Zoological Institute.
Peter the Great incorporated Russia into the European civilization, and this provoked the rapid progress of sciences in the country. The Tsar himself acquired in Europe a lot of rarities, both natural and artificial. When the Russian Academy of Sciences was founded in St.Petersburg, all these collections were brought into its disposition, and in 1728 the special museum building, the Kunstkammer, was opened. The most part of the specimens exhibited there were zoological, so the age of the Zoological Museum may be counted out from this date.
In 1747 a fire ruined the interiors of Kunstkammer. The museum could be reopened only in 1766. Several years earlier C. Linne published his "Systema naturae" (1758). Systematization of known animal species gave a strong impulse to the discovering and description of new taxa. Such vast country as Russia gave a favorable chance for a naturalist. Various expeditions were held out; their materials greatly enriched zoological collections of Kunstkammer. Several prominent foreign biologists took part in this work by invitation of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Two of them, P.S.Pallas (1741-1811) and I.T.Koelreuther (1733-1806) made an essential progress into helminthology.
Pallas came to St.Petersburg in 1767, and the Commission of the Academy of Sciences appointed him a curator of all Kunstkammer's collections representing "the animal kingdom". But it took more than 60 years before the Zoological Museum became fully independent.
Long-term expeditions headed by Pallas were very fruitful from the faunistic point of view: he has find out a great deal of new species in different groups of vertebrates as well as invertebrates. The author planned to summarize his results in two volumes of "Zoographia rosso-asiatica". But before his death he hardly completed the description of vertebrates.
Nevertheless, his brief report "Bemerkungen ueber die Bandwurmer in Menschen und Tieren" published in 1781 contains a description of a number of new species of cestodes. Out of them Caryophyllaeus laticeps, Cyathocephalus truncata, Triaenophorus nodulosus, Fimbriaria fasciolaris are still valid and Macracanthorhynchus hirudinaceus was showed to be an acanthocephalan. Calendar on 1781 issued in Russian by the Academy of Sciences includes an article "On the best ways for liberation from helminths". This well illustrated detailed information on 3 species of human tapeworms was also prepared by Pallas.
The deep interest to helminthology characterized Pallas from his youth. His doctor dissertation (1760) was dedicated just to this field of science. The well-known "father of helminthology" K. Rudolphi (1771-1832) called himself a disciple of Pallas and estimated his works on parasitic worms very high.
I.T.Koelreuther (1771) while he worked in Russia was the first who determined the specific organization of acanthocephalans and created the generic name Acanthocephalus. Pallas (1775) authoritatively adopted this discovery and referred to the new genus another species - a parasite of Rana temporaria. So, the investigation of parasitic worms in the framework of the Russian Academy of Sciences originates from the publications of Pallas and Koelreuther.
The succeeding decades were much less productive for helminthology in Russia. Up to 1840-th there were no communications on this subject - except two works of K.M.Baer printed in Berlin in 1827 and 1829. Academician Baer was de jure the first director of the Zoological Museum on the phase of its separation from the Kunstkammer. But he stayed in St.Petersburg for a very short time, and it was F.F.Brandt who managed the reinstallation of Zoological Museum in a new building. Here it was opened for public in 1838. To this time many old exhibits were lost, for example, Brandt could not find any traces of Pallas's specimens. But museum's collections grew rapidly, and in 1841 a large material on parasitic worms was got from F.Creplin. The latter remained untouched for 50 years as there were no specialists in the group.
On 13-th March, 1895 the Zoological Museum legislatively acquired a statute of the central institution in Russia for zoological research, with appropriate staff and financial support. Since that time it has its present address (Universitetskaja nab., 1). In 1896 the first volume of "The Annuals of the Zoological Museum" was published. Russian zoology raised to quite a new level.
As for "the group of Vermes", it had no permanent curator in the Zoological Museum even on the border of the XIX and XX-th centuries. In 1895 A.A.Bialunitsky-Birulia (in 1921-1930 - the director of the museum) began to put it in order; in particular, he accomplished the preliminary identification of Creplin's materials. Soon "The IInd department of invertebrates" was founded. It included Bryozoa and Vermes. In 1898 its curator was the director Academician V.V.Zalensky, in 1901 - junior zoologist A.S.Skorikov, in 1909 (temporary) - director Academician N.V.Nasonov. In 1911 zoologist A.K.Mordvilko entered the staff of the museum, and the department came under his rule. For some years Geman parasitologist O. von Linstow played a role a of consulting helminthologist for the Russian Academy of Sciences. Parasitic worms from the museum collection were sent to him for research, but publication of the results was carried out in St.Petersburg.
A.K.Mordvilko (1867-1938) was the first specialist in parasitology in the Zoological Museum. He is the author of the classical review of the problem concerning the origin of indirect life cycles in parasites (1908). He published "The instruction for collecting and preservation of parasitic worms " (1909) which was very useful for naturalists. As a head of the department of Bryozoa and Vermes he bought for the museum rich helminthological collections of K.I.Skrjabin and V.O.Clerc. In 1910-th "The Annuals of the Zoological Museum" regularly published materials on parasitic worms. In 1919 N.P.Annenkova-Khlopina (1887-1950) got a got a position in the Zoological Museum. She was yet a well-known specialist on fish parasites. In 1918-1920 she described several new species of lower cestodes.
In 1922 professor K.I.Skrjabin organized in Moscow the Commission for investigation of helminthofauna of Russia. Zoological Museum was represented in it by A.K. Mordvilko and N.P.Annenkova-Khlopina. On 2nd May, 1923 the Commission was taken under the patronage of the USSR Academy of Sciences with the rights of the department of the Zoological Museum.
In 1930 the USSR Academy of Sciences underwent a profound reorganization. In its new schedule the Zoological Museum changed its title to the Zoological Institute and its staff was increased. Shortly B.E Bychovsky (1908-1974) entered into the Institute. The Laboratory of Parasitic Worms as a prominent scientific body was founded and brought up by him.