Alexey A. Vepritskiy
Joing DFWI in 1996, Dr. Alexey A. Vepritskiy is a Research Associate with the Darrin Fresh Water Institute’s Molecular Laboratory. He received his MS in Physics (Biophysics) from St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg, Russia, and his Ph.D. in Biology (Microbiology) from St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia. On completion his Doctorate program, Dr. Vepritskiy joined the Faculty of Biology & Soil Sciences at St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia, where he was invited to join the Laboratory of Microbiology of Professor Boris V. Gromov, a renowned microbiologist and protistologist. There he took the lead on a variety of environmental and ecological government-sponsored projects involving studies of different prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms including cyanobacteria, algae and algal viruses. As part of Professor Gromov’s team, he participated in numerous ecological field expeditions aimed to survey microbial communities in diverse freshwater habitats – lakes and rivers – threatened by anthropogenic influence in remote northern regions of Russia. In addition to his research activities, Dr. Vepritskiy was teaching a number of lecture and laboratory courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Vepritskiy joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Biology Department, and subsequently Darrin Fresh Water Institute in 1996.
Prior to joining RPI, he worked in MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory at Michigan State University, and in Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, he had the honor to work in the lab of one of world’s foremost cyanobacteriologists Professor C. Peter Wolk, conducting research on a few projects related to nitrogen fixation in filamentous cyanobacteria. At RPI, Dr. Vepritskiy has been affiliated, for a number of years, with the New York Center for Studies on the Origins of Life, an interdisciplinary NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT). As a NSCORT researcher, he has studied the distribution, structure and evolutionary history of group I self-splicing introns found in bacteria that reside in deep subsurface environments. At DFWI, Dr. Vepritskiy’s primary research activity has been to conduct molecular ecology surveys and study diversity of freshwater microbial eukaryotes in diverse acid rain impacted Adirondack lakes by utilizing culture-independent molecular approaches, such as constructing and analyzing environmental 18S SSU rRNA gene libraries. This project has eventually expanded into an international endeavor, which is currently being carried on in collaboration with European scientists. Throughout the years with DFWI, Dr. Vepritskiy has been involved in teaching and training of graduate, undergraduate and high school students, as well as international interns and scientists, in advanced state-of-the-art laboratory techniques and methods. Since 2009 he has been actively involved in the ‘Semester of Study at DFWI’ assisting in teaching of the course of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Diversity and molecular ecology surveys of freshwater microbial eukaryotes in diverse Adirondack lakes impacted by acid rain, using culture-independent molecular methods.
Freshwater environments are among the most important environmental resources on the planet, providing diverse ecological habitats and harboring complex assemblages of microbes, including a diversity of eukaryotes (protists) comparable to that seen in marine environments. The need to conserve biological diversity and understand community structure of freshwater is important for ensuring the quality of these resources for human use and sustainable development. Protists are key components of aquatic food webs both as members of the phytoplankton and as major consumers of bacterial biomass, and hence play a fundamentally important role in nutrient cycling. However, freshwater protists are currently among the most poorly studied organisms. Little is known about their actual diversity, patterns of biogeography, community assembly and the importance of environmental factors in their propagation. Here at DFWI, we quest to discover and characterize the diversity and relative abundance of certain key protist groups (e.g. cercomonads) across freshwater environmental gradients in the Adirondack Park, and make attempts to relate this diversity to protist communities from globally distributed biotopes. Our investigations are primarily facilitated by environmental gene library analyses. More specifically, we seek to relate diversity and relative abundance of some key protist taxa to contrasting physiochemical, hydrological, and ecological environments in Adirondack lakes, to elucidate the molecular diversity within these groups, and to relate the inferred distribution of these key groups within the Adirondacks to their distribution patterns on a global scale in an attempt to elucidate important determinants of protist diversity, as well as to gain new insights into the fundamental divergence between freshwater and marine protist lineages.
The unique geographic location of DFWI within the six-million-acre Adirondack Park with its 2,770 diverse lakes and ponds, and the combination of unique natural resources render Adirondack lakes one of the best freshwater natural ecosystems available for microbial community studies, which makes us hopeful to accomplish successfully our rather ambitious goals.
Bass, D., N. Brown, J. Mackenzie-Dodds, P. Dyal, S. A. Nierzwicki-Bauer, A. A. Vepritskiy and T. A. Richards. 2009. A molecular perspective on ecological differentiation and biogeography of cyclotrichiid ciliates. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol., 56(6): 559567.
Richards, T. A., A.A. Vepritskiy, D.E. Gouliamova, and S. A. Nierzwicki-Bauer. 2005. The molecular diversity of freshwater picoeukaryotes from an oligotrophic lake reveals diverse, distinctive and globally dispersed lineages. Environmental Microbiology, 7(9): 1413-1425.
Darrin Fresh Water Institute
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