DIVISION OF BOTANY
Scientific research groups are exploring algae and plants from different aspects: molecular and genetic, chemical and biochemical, physiological and pathophysiological, phylogenetic and evolutionary, geobotanical and ecological. The studies that range from analyses of the distribution, habitat and environmental conditions in which algae and plants live, through investigations of bioactive substances in plants with possible applications in phytotherapy to the analyses of the genetic diversity of populations and species are carried out in the laboratory, as well as on the field. A surprisingly large number of different, especially endemic plants in such a small area as Croatia, inevitably influenced the direction of our investigations. Knowledge on the structure and function of algae and plants, as well as on their living conditions and way of life is essential for the understanding of fundamental life processes, food production, manufacturing of drugs of plant origin, prevention and protection of plant allergens, promotion of touristic offer of specific areas. According to the achieved results, the scientists has profiled into the leading Croatian botanists, recognizable at the international scientific scene. Within the global list of herbarium collections officially are registered two herbarium collections: "Herbarium Croaticum" and Herbarium "Ivo and Marija Horvat".
- to raise awareness on the importance of plants and their biodiversity to sustain life on Earth
- insight into the current condition, vulnerability and potential problems in biodiversity conservation
- to propose measures to manage and protect certain species and specific botanical important areas for quality of life on Earth
- to affect food production, production of drugs of plant origin, prevention and protection of plant allergens, promotion of tourist offer of specific areas by the research results
- preservation and promotion of Croatian cultural heritage, as well as education in the field of plants knowledge through the maintenance and work on herbarium collections
DIVISION OF ZOOLOGY
Department of Zoology strives to promote the study of basic and applied aspects of Zoology through teaching and research. Research is focused on the several main topics:
- Ecotoxicological studies aim at improving environmental risk assessment and are mainly focused on the effects of environmental contaminants on cellular and genetic structure of aquatic or soil organisms. Several methods are applied for the evaluation of DNA damage and genome variability and analyses are carried out in vitro and in vivo using a variety of model organisms (cnidarians, planarians, molluscs, crayfish, earthworms). Analyses are performed in laboratory or in situ field exposed organisms as well as in organisms belonging to native populations.
- Phylogeographic research is directed on the study of the historical processes that may be responsible for the contemporary geographic distributions of individuals in light of the patterns associated with a gene genealogy and climatic change. The subjects of these investigations are mostly aquatic organisms spread in the Dinaric karst of Balkan Peninsula. Of special interests are molecular phylogeny, evolution and symbiosis of freshwater invertebrates, with an intention to provide clear insight into the significance of symbiogenesis in speciation process, and determination of divergence time and mechanisms of symbiosis in freshwater cnidarians.
- Present ecological research a mixture of laboratory and field-based studies and it addresses fundamental questions, as well as diversity and conservation. The research involves a wide range of organisms; it spans areas of basic and applied ecology, ranging from individual and population to community level, with special emphasis on freshwater ecology and control of invasive species. Applied researches are focused on biological water assessment in accordance with the Water Framework Directive of the European commission; implementation of the composition of aquatic fauna in evaluation of environment: developing lists of indicators for different types of habitats and the establishment of monitoring surveys.
DIVISION OF ANIMAL PHYSIOLOGY
The research is focused on prevention of tumour and metastasis growth by inhibition of angiogenesis, by investigation of interaction between VEGF, macrophage polarization, oxidative stress and angiogenesis. Studies will include DNA damage in tumour cells and lymphocytes and key molecular mechanisms of anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, phytoestrogen and regenerative potential of bioactive compounds of plant and honey-bee products in diabetes, osteoporosis, inflammatory diseases of skin and bowel as well as its modulatory effects on gut microorganisms and in processes of detoxification of carcinogenic compounds and toxins. In the field of neurophysiology future research will focus on (Long)-lasting consequences of perinatal exposure to altered serotonin concentrations explored on animal model in rats prenatally treated with an inhibitor of serotonin degradation (tranylcypromine) and in human population (subjects with autism spectrum disorder). In rat, immunohistochemical methods will be used to determine the consequences of altered central serotonin homeostasis on structural organization of somatosensory cortex, and of altered peripheral serotonin in bone marrow, kidney and liver structure. In humans, bone and blood parameters will be measured to determine the influence of altered peripheral serotonin homeostasis on glucose, lipid and bone metabolism. In the field of endocrinology and reproduction research of influence of different in vitro procedures on level of oxidative stress and genome stability of reproductive cells will be conducted. In the field of dietary and metabolic physiology we will conduct research of intracellular and organ cholesterol accumulation on antioxidative defence mechanisms. Toxicological in vivo and in vitro research on food safety due to presence of different xenobiotics and bioactive compounds will be conducted. As a part the ecophysiology the population research of wild mammals of Croatia (wolf, jackal, wild pig, deer, otter, and dolphins) by use of neutral and adaptive genetic markers will continue. Behavioural-cognitive research of animal behaviour that allows survival on the model Balkan Snow vole. We are planning to apply behavioural-cognitive research methods in current and future studies on impact of bioactive substances on animal model (the laboratory mice or/and rats).
DIVISION OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
Department of molecular biology consist is heterogeneous and consist of several research groups with independent research programs.
The research interest of the Group for stress biology is the effects of abiotic stress on plants and the mechanisms of their response to stress, analyzed on cellular, chromosome, gene-expression and protein level.
The oldest Group of the Department of Molecular Biology is interested in plant genome organization and evolution studied on cytogenetic and molecular level. The aim of this group in further investigations is application of chromosome markers in phylogeny studies as well as the organization and evolution of repetitive sequences and their implications in speciation. The research interests of the Group for plant development are the mechanisms of sexual and asexual reproduction in plants and their application in biotechnology. The prospective studies aim to understand regulation of the reproductive capacities of the egg cell and somatic cells and try to use the potential of somatic embryogenesis in establishment of the new agronomically desirable properties.
The Biomedicine group has several different research interests: a) to explore potential of the stem cells in regenerative orthopedics; b) transcriptional regulation in animal cells, and c) investigation of communication network between cancerous cells and their microenvironment. The aim of the future research is regulation of plasminogen activation system which governs tissue remodeling, and investigation of biopathology of hematological neoplasms using multidisciplinary approach.
The research topic of Bioinfo group is bioinformatics and metagenomics in systems biology. Using computational tools and methods they aim to discover knowledge in life processes at the level of entire biological systems.
The research topic of Epigenetic group is regulation of protein glycosylation in normal physiology and in various human complex diseases. The future aim is to understand how variability in protein glycosylation, governed by epigenetic regulation, is involved in different susceptibility and progression of the disease. The aim is also to reveal functional relevance of GWAS hits for IgG glycosylation by approach of genetic/epigenetic editing using TALEN/CRISPR methodology.
DIVISION OF MICROBIOLOGY
Division of Microbiology will continue the scientific research on bacteria, viruses, subviral agents, and fungi. Main planned research topics will include:
- Diversity and interactions of chestnut, chestnut blight fungus and biocontrol agent – virus: implications on chestnut recovery.
- Epidemiology of clinically important bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii.
- Molecular epidemiology, diversity and genotyping of phytoplasmas (genus ‘'Candidatus Phytoplasma') of economically important crops in Croatia
- Comparative and functional genomics of phytoplasmas: genome plasticity, interactions with plant and insect hosts and pathogenicity mechanisms/strategies.
- Genetic structure, molecular diversity and evolution of plant viruses having single- or double-stranded RNA genomes.
- Molecular diversity and epidemiology of environmental viruses.
- Viroid molecular diversity and population structures.
- Application of monolith chromatography in research of virus particles and nucleic acids.