Research areas

Department of Animal Anatomy and Physiology

Animal physiology studies
Overview of research topics
. Hormonal control ofthe hypothalamus, pituitary gland, ovaries and uterus. An investigation of the action mechanisms of endogenous (prolactin, leptin, orexin, adiponectin, oxytocin, prostaglandin, steroids and cytokines) and environmental (diet and environmental temperature) factors in the regulation of the reproduction functions in mammals. Identification of the family of PAG (Pregnancy-Associated Glycoprotein) in different placental species. Action mechanisms of phytoestrogens in the steroidogenic cells in birds and mammals. The role of endogenous opioid peptides in the regulation of reproductive processes. The role of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) in the regulation of reproductive processes in the domestic pig (Sus scrofa domestica). The role of aquaporins (AQP) in the female reproductive system.

Applied research methods. In vivo, in vitro and in silico methods. Real-time PCR, a global analysis of transcriptome and in situ hybridization. Nucleic acid sequencing. Gene silencing. Determination of the level of DNA methylation. Immunochemistry, immunocytochemistry, immunofluorescence, Western blot, 2D electrophoresis, RIA mass spectrometry and ELISA.

The most important scientific achievements. The discovery of steroid synthesis in the uterus and demonstration of the mechanisms determining how the reproductive system adapts to environmental conditions during ontogenesis. The common regulatory systems involving leptin, orexin and adiponectin and their role in the control over energy homeostasis and reproductive functions in the female were demonstrated. The discovery and specification of the PAG family in different domestic and wild placental species. The action mechanism of prolactin in the regulation of hypothalamus-pituitary gland-gonad axis and steroidogenesis in the ovaries and adrenal glands in the domestic pig (Sus scrofa domestica)was determined. The mechanism of phytoestrogens in the ovaries and adrenal glands in birds and mammals was elucidated. The role of opioid receptors in the secretion of luteinizing hormone and prolactin by the pituitary cells was demonstrated. The involvement of alfa, beta and gamma isoforms of the PPAR receptor in the synthesis of steroid hormones and prostaglandins in the uterus and ovaries was shown. The role of aquaporins in the glucose and glycerol metabolism in mammals was determined.

Animal Anatomy Studies
Overview of research topics. The department is involved in comparative studieson the central nervous system of placentals. In 1997-2006, these studies were mainly focused on the cytostructural and spatial arrangement of the nervous centres in the brain stem and subcortical telencephalon. In 2007, immunohistochemical methods were applied which allowed for conducting morphological studies with a broader functional view.

Since 1997, the major research trends at the Department of Comparative anatomy have included an analysis of evolutionary tendencies and adaptive variability of the selected brain structures in mammals with morphometric, stereological and immunohistochemical methods; the analysis of morphological and neurochemical plasticity of the limbal structures during the ontogenesis of the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus L.), particularly the role of calcium-binding proteins as the markers of anatomical and functional subsystems and developmental stages; and investigating the sexual differentiation of the selected telencephalon and diencephalon with morphological and immunohistochemical methods.

The most important scientific achievements. Varied evolutionary and adaptive trends of the selected brain centres were determined in the following mammalian orders: insectivore, rodents, carnivores and ungulates. Morphological and immunohistochemical sexual differentiation of the selected brain centres were demonstrated in the guinea pig. Calcium-binding proteins were determined as the markers of the functional subsystems and developmental stages of the limbal structures (mammillary bodies, rostral thalamus, hippocampus and septum) during the ontogenesis of the guinea pig. Varied expression models or co-expression of calcium-binding proteins and cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide in the selected brain centres in mammals were demonstrated.


Department of Biochemistry

Overview of research topics. An analysis of DPPIV and MOR geneexpression in children with the symptoms of allergies and autism. A qualitative and quantitative analysis of opioid peptides and pro-inflammatory cytokines in people affected with allergies, autism, neoplastic diseases of the large intestine and breast tumours. The anti-allergic mechanism of Ostol in in vitro studies. Identification of the polymorphism of µ-opioid receptor gene and DPPIV gene in selected disease processes (autism, acute pancreatitis). Biochemistry and molecular biology of the invertebrates. Biochemical analyses of impacts in the parasite-host arrangement. A proteomic analysis of the mechanism of an adaptive response to abiotic stress in plants and identification of potential protein markers of such stressors. Changes to the composition of phenolic compounds in plants under the influence of abiotic stressors. An analysis of the impact of exogenous jasmonates on the metabolism of lupine (Lupinus sp.) and triticale (Triticale sp.) seedlings and the impact of jasmonates on infestations of plants with pathogens. Toxic compounds in the tissue of wild game as bioindicators of environmental status.

The most important scientific achievements. The role of opioid peptides in food was demonstrated in the aetiology of allergies and autism in children. The impact of environmental factors on the biochemical changes during the ontogenesis of red mason bee (Osmia rufa) and honey bee (Apis mellifera) was demonstrated. An impact of β-aminobutyric acid on alleviating saline stress in plants was also found. Specific defensive mechanisms of vines against abiotic stress were reported. It was shown that methyl jasmonate increases the resistance to biotic factors in plants.


Department of Botany and Nature Protection

The most important scientific achievements: development of vegetation maps of the protected areas in the province of Warmińsko-Mazurskie (Mazurski Park Krajobrazowy, Park Krajobrazowy Pojezierza Iławskiego, Park Krajobrazowy Wzgórz Dylewskich, Park Krajobrazowy Puszczy Rominckiej, Las Doświadczalny in Popielno, Rezerwat „Las Warmiński” and other natural reserves); presenting the molecular evolution of Lamium L. genus, which explains that the taxonomic distinction of yellow archangel Galeobdolon luteum Huds. versus dead-nettles (Lamium sp.) is unjustified; the development of microsatellite loci, estimation of gene pool and creation of genetic diversity models for the population of Eastern pasqueflower Pulsatilla patens (L.) Mill. in Europe; development and implementation of a new macrophyte ESMI method for standard investigations of the ecological status of lakes carried out by the wildlife conservation bodies in Poland (Rozporządzenie Min. Środowiska, Dz. U. z dnia 9 września 2008 r., nr 162, poz. 1008); creation of ToxGen, an Internet database, to identify toxin-producing trichothecene chemotypes from Fusarium genus; development of a new, highly sensitive qPCR marker for specific quantification of F. graminearum sensu stricto and F. culmorum from cereals.

Overview of research topics. Flora and vegetation in different ecosystems in the context of chorology, phylogeography, population ecology, dynamics of phytocoenoses and geobotanical cartography. The application of phyto-indication methods in monitoring aquatic environments and the evaluation of terrestrial habitats. The resources of genetic variability in the population of selected protected species, endangered species and species listed in Natura 200. Evolutionary and integrated plant genomics. The taxonomy of selected plant groups with molecular methods. Studies on the impact of RR (resistance related) metabolites on the toxin-producing profile of Fusarium genus and other fungi. The biology of weed diaspore dissemination and eco-physiological conditions of diaspore sprouting. Wildlife conservation, natural valuation and the ecological foundations of environmental management.

Applied research methods. Field methods of recording and charting of flora and vegetation. The application of topogram and cartogram in synthesizing the results of floristic and phytosociological studies. In vitro culture of selected plant species. Sanger and NGS sequencing. Genotyping with SSR and ISJ markers. Bioinformatic analyses. Analyses of gene expression with qPCR methods. qPCR diagnostics of toxin-producing fungi.


Department of Ecology and Environmental Protection

Overview of research topics. Hydrobiology. Ecology, taxonomy and evolution of Hydrachnidia. Ecology, biology, biogeography and conservation of aquatic insects: Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, Odonata, Heteroptera, Trichoptera and Coleoptera in Poland and Eastern Europe. An evaluation of changes in the structure of hydrobiont assembalges over the succession of disharmonic and harmonic series of lakes. An evaluation of anthropogenic transformation of hydrobiont communities in cultural landscapes. An evaluation of the ecologic status of aquatic environments. Water monitoring. Ornithology. Variability and evolution of phenotypic traits in birds. Eco-physiological and behavioural adaptation of birds to the urban environment. Ecology of population and avifauna communities on the floodplain of the Biebrza and Narew rivers. The ecology of the European Roller (Coracias garrulus). The ecology of the "flash-pursuit predator" group of species in the zone of sympatric occurrence on the eastern slopes of the Andes. Monitoring of an avian population. The application of statistical methods and mathematical modelling in ecological studies.

Applied research methods. Hydrobiological field studies with macrobenthos catches. Entomologic method of catching the imaginal stages of aquatic insects. Methods of survey the occurrence, density and monitoring of birds and amphibians. Bird ringing. . Biometrical methods of Baltic Action and Euring in birds research. Measurements of CBC (Complete Blood Count) indices and hormones level used to evaluate the physiological status of birds. Isolation and analysis of DNA in birds. Ptilochronology. Bioacoustic research methods. Statistical analyses methods. Mathematical modelling and numerical ecological methods.

The most important scientific achievements. The factors determining the distribution of Trichoptera larvae and the structure of Coleoptera communities in the lakes in Poland were demonstrated. The fauna of aquatic Heteroptera, Coleoptera and Trichoptera of some areas in Poland and Eastern Europe was investigated. The nature of the “parasite-host” relation between Hydracarina and Heteroptera was determined.
A hypothesis of the fluctuating directional selection in Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) population as a model for variability of the metric traits determined by the climate over the years was demonstrated and investigated. Urban pressure on body condition, the selection and the degree of asymmetry of the phenotypic traitsin the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) was shown.


Department of Microbiology and Mycology

Microbiological studies
Overview of research topics.
The studies conducted at the Department of Microbiology focus on three issues: (1) structural and functional specification of micro-biocoenoses in natural ecosystems, with special emphasis on extreme habitats; (2) biotechnological microbiology, including the use of microorganisms in the production of precious biomaterial and (3) the impact of intestinal microbiota on human health. The ecological studies include field analyses and laboratory experiments aimed at determining the factors that condition the biodiversity of micro-biocoenoses. The department staff is involved in multi-team research on the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctic. The biotechnological studies consisting in the analyses of expression of the genes associated with the synthesis of biopolymers (of the polyhydroxy acid group) are targeted to determine the mechanism of regulation of medium chain length polyhydroxyalkanoate (mcl-PHA) synthesis. The studies of the intestinal microbiome focus on explaining the interactions between the food constituents and the properties of commensal and probiotic bacteria and the role of these interactions in the regulation of selected gastrointestinal functions.
Applied research methods. Cultures of microorganisms; quantitative and qualitative fluorescent microscopy; fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), PCR-DGGE analysis; RNA sequencing (RNAseq): transcript profiling; real-time PCR: gene expression analysis; two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2D PAGE); and two-dimensional fluorescence difference gel electrophoresis (2D DIGE).
The most important scientific achievements. Involvement in 10 polar expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic zones. The creation of a museum of extremophile bacterial strains and archaea with a potential biotechnological application. The optimization of culturing the microorganisms used in the production of biopolymers. An explanation of some aspects of the impact of food on the structure and functions of the intestinal microbiome.

Mycological studies
Overview of research topics
. Fungi as aetiological factors and potential bioindicators.Li-affecting strategies of fungi with different trophic statuses under natural and anthropogenically-modified ecological arrangements. Natural reservoirs of fungi with potential pathogenicity for humans and animals. Bioecological and epidemiological conditions of fungal infections. Taxonomic diversity, prevalence and role of fungi in the hydrosphere, aerosphere and phyllosphere. Lichen and sociologic evaluation of natural and anthropogenically-modified congeries.

Applied research methods. Field methods: itinerary, transect, cartographic and pointing, solid surfaces, topogram, myco-sociological and lichen images. The methods for isolation of the fungi pathogenic to animals and humans: biopsy, endoscopy, swabs, drop, sedimentation, collision, electroprecipitation, syphoning and filtration. Laboratory methods: direct microscopic techniques, superficial and deep culture, membrane filter technique, macro- and microcultures, zymograms, auxanograms, fungi sensitivity test, biochemical tests and thin layer chromatography (TLC).

The most important scientific achievements. It was demonstrated that the changes in the biodiversity, number and eco-physiological preferences of potential human pathogens, originating from different parts of the biosphere, result in their changes changes in the onthosphere of man. The most important reactions of selected phytopathogenic fungi of the urbicoenosis in “host-parasite-supraparasite” arrangements were determined. A monograph on the lichen biota in Olsztyn was prepared. Diagnostic recommendations for isolation and identification of microfungi for application in hydromycology were developed. Areas demonstrating the unique diversity of lichens and requiring some special forms of wildlife conservation were identified.


Department of Plant Physiology, Genetics and Biotechnology

Overview of research topics. The metabolism of oligosaccharides from the raffinose and galactosyl cyclitols in the legume seeds. Morphophysiological, ultrastructural and cytochemical (developmental and stress-induced) changes in the vegetative and generative tissues in the polar species of Caryophyllaceae and Poaceae. The impact of biotic and abiotic stressors on the development of plants and a potential for increasing the resistance in plants. Physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying the response of plants to stressors. The ecophysiology of dormancy and sprouting of weed and invasive plant seeds. Population genetics and molecular evolution of selected plant species. The identification of genomes and genes and the analysis of transcriptome profiles. A physiological and biochemical reaction of cultivated plants to environmental pollution with veterinary medicines and metals.

Applied research methods. Gaschromatography, mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography. Electrophoretic techniques. Microscopic analyses: standard light microscopy and fluorescent microscopy, including confocal techniques; TEM and SEM electron microscopy and electron microscopy with EDS (energy dispersed X-ray spectroscopy). Histochemical and cytochemical analyses. Predicting the changes in dormancy and sprouting of seeds with the analysis of hydro-to-time model. Genotyping, expression analysis and gene cloning. An analysis of nucleotide sequences in the promoters with reporter genes. In silico analyses of DNA-Seq and RNA-Seq high throughput sequencing data.

The most important scientific achievements. The crucial role of the inflow of cyclitols to the maturating seeds in the regulation of oligosaccharide (raffinose and galactosyl cyclitols family) biosynthesis was elucidated. Morphophysiological developmental changes of the vegetative and generative structures and specific traits of the cellular organelle in arctic and Antarctic flowering plants was described. The parameters of the threshold models for predicting the dormancy of perennial species seeds were developed. The PsGolS2 galactinol synthase encoding gene was identified in P. sativum seedlings in response to cold stress. The presence of NP24 protein-encoding gene was identified in germination tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) seeds. Differences in the jasmonate-induced response and mimics of these compounds were determined in coyote tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata).


Department of Zoology

Overview of research topics. Studies on biology, ecology, functional morphology, taxonomy and phylogenetics of animals are carried out on different organizational levels: population, species, individuals and genomes comprising the following issues: biology and taxonomy of leeches (Hirudinida) with reference to such aspects as description, classification and phylogenetical reconstruction; monitoring and environmental conditions of the prevalence and spread of human and animal parasites; ecology and taxonomy of beetles, mainly rove beetles (Staphylinidae) and a description of beetle congeries; species-specific cytogenetic and molecular markers in animals, mainly teleost fish (Teleostei) and molluscs (Mollusca); developmental biology; gametogenesis and embryogenesis of fish and molluscs; prevalence, origin, cytogenetic and genetic diversity, biology and mechanisms of reproduction in hybrids and naturally occurring polyploids in true loaches (Cobitidae) and cyprinids (Cyprinidae); molecular grounds for the physiology of reproduction in diploid and polyploid fish taxa; chromosomal manipulations and conservative aquaculture; biology of reproduction in passerines (Passeriformes) and biology of migration in charadriiforms (Charadriiformes); faunistic sciences and wildlife conservation.

Applied research methods. Light, fluorescent and electron microscopy. Phenetic and cladistic taxonomy methods. Histological techniques. Molecular techniques: RNA and DNA isolation, reverse transcription, PCR, Real-time PCR, Western blot, ELISA, RFLP, and sequencing. Cytogenetic methods: G-banding, fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). In vitro and in vivo cultures. Observations and field trials; ring barking of birds and telemetry; analyses of food composition and energy balance; trap-catching of beetles. Fish reproduction under controlled conditions.

The most important scientific achievements. System and model solutions for the theory of biological taxonomy and phylogenetic of leeches were suggested. An investigation of the life cycle of Contracaecum rudolphii, a nematode species, in north-eastern Poland was conducted. The identification of cytogenetic traits or molecular markers of several cyprinid fish species (Cypriniformes) was performed. It was demonstrated that the clonal offspring of triploid female fish (Cobitis genus) show a higher survival rate than the tetraploid offspring of the same females originating from bisexual reproduction. It was shown that tetraploid Cobitis males are infertile; they do not produce spermatozoa or sperm. It was demonstrated that necrophagic beetles inhabiting the cities are smaller in size than the same species originating from non-urbanized areas. Expanding knowledge of the aspects of biology of some charadriiform species (Charadriiformes) during the migration period.


The "Laboratory of Molecular Diagnostics" - Research and Education Centre

The Laboratory of Molecular Diagnostics was set up to equip academics and PhD students at the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology with modern techniques of molecular biology and to provide such services to individuals and external bodies. The laboratory is also involved in teaching activities that are aimed at familiarizing students with such techniques. Two teaching rooms are used to provide the following courses for students: genomics, proteomics, molecular techniques and medical and forensic molecular diagnostics. The students also use the laboratory facilities for experiments during their MSc and PhD procedures. The staff of the laboratory provide comprehensive support in planning the experiments and using the laboratory equipment.
The Laboratory of Molecular Diagnostics include the fully-equipped facilities for: analysing the nucleic acids with the sequencer and the platform for DNA micro-matrix analyses, flow cytometry with a cell-sorting device, protein analysis with the automated line for proteomic analyses and MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometer, microbiological/plasmid analyses, microscopic investigations with the transmission electron microscope, in vitro plant cultures, in vitro animal cultures, plant breeding and isotope analyses.

Applied research methods. Cell cultures and microscopic techniques, nucleic acid and protein isolation, PCR, new generation sequencing, 2D electrophoresis, mass spectrometry, Western blotting, immunocytochemistry, ELISA, flow cytometry and bioinformatic methods (modelling, analysis of molecular interactions).

Overview of research topics. The staff of the laboratory and PhD students, regardless of their assigned tasks, also conduct personal studies. The research topics include issues associated with the impact of phytoestrogens and dioxins on the reproduction of females, in particular, the following: 1/ the mechanisms of genistein, daidzein, biochanin A and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) on the granulosa cells in the porcine ovary; 2/ the structure of the gene and protein and the tissue location of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in the pig; 3/ the molecular interactions between phytoestrogens or dioxins and the Ah receptor in the pig; and 4/ the role and mechanisms of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzyme in dioxin degradation.

The most important scientific achievements. The transcripts of AhR and other molecules of this receptor’s pathway were sequenced and described. The in-silico models for the AhR ligand/protein substrate domain, ARNT and selected cytochromes of the P450 family in the pig were developed. It was demonstrated that 1/ TCDD binding by the porcine cytochromes of the CYP1 family resulted in permanent closure of the enzyme substrate channels, and 2/ the level of TCDD was changed.