Published on 16 April 2018
Jean d'Alembert grant program

As a participant in the Jean d’Alembert Fellowship Programme, Professor Sergey Karpov spent six months visiting Université Paris-Saclay (UPS) from the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences in Rusia.

The majority of Prof. Karpov’s time spent working revolves around the study of organisms that are not quite plants and not quite animals. We eat them and often use them to make foods like wine and beer. They have saved millions of human lives but have also taken just as many. Some live on their own while others act as parasites.

Fungi and their close relatives, which include organisms commonly known to us as mushrooms, molds, yeasts and others form part of a group of over 99,000 known living species and they are the organisms that have captured Prof. Karpov’s interest.

Hosted by UPS researchers, Professors Purificación López-García and David Moreira, Prof. Karpov carried out the majority of his work at the lab for Ecologie Systématique Evolution (ESE). The lab, which is supported by UPS partners CNRS, Université Paris Sud and Agro Paris Tech, carries out a variety of activities related to applied and fundamental research on ecology and evolution.

Sergey Karpov

Visiting Professor, Sergey Karpov

Purificación López-García

Hosting Professor, Purificación López-García

David Moreira

Hosting Professor, David Moreira

During his time at Université Paris-Saclay, Prof. Karpov and his team of colleagues dove into the study of the evolutionary ancestry of certain types of fungi. To do this, much of their work revolved around the genetic analysis of different types of fungi and organisms believed to have fungi ancestry.

While work is still underway, the team has already discovered a new and highly divergent branch in the kingdom Fungi, opening up a world of possibilities for future studies. Specifically, their work looked at a certain type of parasitic fungi which feed on algae and destroys their bloom. On the one hand, this can often improve the general ecological situation in freshwater reservoirs, but on the other hand they can also seriously degrade cultures of algae that are being grown for the production, of biofuels.

Because biofuels provide us with an alternative form of energy, they may be key in helping us mitigate the impact of climate change, reduce the ongoing depletion of fossil reserves, and foster continued economic growth and stability. For this reason, Prof. Karpov and the team are eager to have a better understanding of these tiny but powerful organisms.

When asking Prof. Karpov what has made this work so exciting he explains that, “I have been really lucky to work with some excellent and world-renowned molecular biologists here at UPS. The combination of this kind of dynamic collaboration and the state-of-the-art lab facilities have really helped me focus on important questions left unanswered by some of my previous research”.  In addition to the benefits of working within UPS’ diverse and multidisciplinary network, Prof. Karpov adds that, “the Paris winter is warm and sunny,” which may come as a surprise to many Parisians.

If you would like to know more about this area of research you can check out some of the following publications that relate to this work:

Karpov SA, Tcvetkova VS, Mamkaeva MA, Torruella G, Timpano H, Moreira D, Mamanazarova KS, López-García P (2017) Morphological and Genetic Diversity of Opisthosporidia: New Aphelid Paraphelidium tribonemae Gen. et Sp. Nov. J Eukaryot Microbiol 64:204–212.  doi:10.1111/jeu.12352

Karpov S.A., Mamanazarova K.S., Popova O.V., Aleoshin V.V., James T.Y., Mamkaeva M.A., Tcvetkova V.S., Vishnyakov A.E., Longcore J.E. 2017. Monoblepharidomycetes diversity includes new parasitic and saprotrophic species with highly intronized rDNA. Fungal biology. 1 2 1: 7 2 9 - 7 4 1.

Karpov, S. A., Torruella, G., Moreira, D., Mamkaeva, M. A. and López-García, P. (2017), Molecular Phylogeny of Paraphelidium letcheri sp. nov. (Aphelida, Opisthosporidia). J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 64, 5, 573–578 doi:10.1111/jeu.12389

Karpov SA, López-García P, Mamkaeva MA, Tcvetkova VS, Vishnyakov AE, Klimov VI, Moreira D. 2017. The Chytrid-like Parasites of Algae Amoeboradix gromovi gen. et sp. nov. and Sanchytrium tribonematis Belong to a New Fungal Lineage. Protist. 169: 122-140.