International scientists discovered a new genus at the Aktru station

An international group of scientists made a discovery at Aktru, the TSU high-altitude base. They discovered and described a new genus and species of crustaceans living in the mountain river Aktru. These Siberian members of the Bathynellidae family proved to be genetically different from their relatives from Australia, America, and Europe.

- The high-altitude station Aktru, along with two other research bases of the University, Khanymei and Kaibasovo, is part of the large international project Interact II, - says Olga Shaduiko, director of the TSU Center for International Collaboration. - Teams of Russian and international scientists work at Aktru every year. In 2018, under the international project, a group of scientists from Spain, Romania, and Poland carried out research and sampling at Aktru. The material collected in the Altai Mountains turned out to be unique. Scientists were able to discover a new genus and species of crayfish - Altainella calcarata gen. n. sp. n.

The results were published in the journal Zoologica Scripta. There, the researchers describe a new genus and species belonging to the Bathynellidae family. The members of this family are often called amphipods. It is very numerous, therefore specialists in taxonomy strongly disagree about the species belonging of its representatives.

Scientists who worked at the TSU station as part of the Interact II project compared the individuals found in the Aktru River to similar crustaceans from Australia, the Americas, and various European countries. The researchers decided not to limit themselves to the study of morphology and carried out a DNA examination of the objects. It showed that Siberian specimens are genetically different from all known relatives living on the above continents. Another success of scientists was that among the collected samples, they found both males and females. It often happens that, for example, when studying animals (crustaceans or insects), individuals of only one sex come within sight of the scientists, although the existence of the opposite sex is beyond doubt.

- The area where the TSU base is located is unique, and we are sure that the scientists who work in these places have many more discoveries ahead, says Olga Shaduyko. - In the summer season of 2020, a wide range of studies is planned at Aktru - from elucidating the characteristics of melting permafrost and fires in boreal forests to studying the effect of heatwaves on the DNA and endurance of Arctic bumblebees.