Department of Cell Population Genetics


Victor A. Kunakh

Professor, Dr. Sci. (Genetics),
Corresponding member of NASU
Phone: (380-44) 526-07-98;
Fax: (380-44) 526-07-59;

Education and Degrees:

1969 Graduated with honors, Faculty of Biology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine, M.Sc. (genetics)

1975 Ph.D. (genetics)

1989 Dr.Sci. (genetics)

1993 Professor (genetics)

1997 Corresponding Member of NASU

Professional Employment:

1966–1969 Senior Laboratory Assistant, M. G. Kholodny Institute of Botany, NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine

1971–1978 Junior Research Scientist, Department of Cytogenetics and Polyploidy, Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics (IMBG), NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine

1978–1983 Senior Research Scientist, IMBG NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine

1983–1989 Head of the Laboratory of Cell Population Genetics, IMBG NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine

since 1989 Head of the Department of Cell Population Genetics, IMBG NASU, Kyiv, Ukraine


since 2003 Editor-in-Chief of Academic and Applied Research Journal “The Bulletin of Vavylov Society of Geneticists and Breeders of Ukraine”

since 2007 President of Vavylov Society of Geneticists and Breeders of Ukraine and Editorial Board member of Journal “Cytology and Genetics” (Ukraine)

Honours, Prizes, Awards:

2003 Yuriev Award of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

2005 Ukrainian State Award in the Field of Science and Technologies

2007 Kholodnyi Award of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

2014 Gershenson Award of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Research Area:

Studies on plant genome variability in nature and in cell populations in vitro as a basis for adaptation to changing growth conditions

Сurrent Research Activities and Recent Achievements:

Studies on the causes and mechanisms of structural and functional genome variability in cell populations in vitro and in nature, as well as search for ways of this variability regulation aimed to develop molecular genetic, physiological, and biochemical principles of plant biotechnology.

It has been theoretically and experimentally proved that cultured in vitro plant cells populations represent a novel experimentally generated biological system, characterized by remarkable properties.

The plant cell adaptation to the in vitro growth conditions was found to be a multistep event that can be divided into three periods depending on the nature of adaptation, type, direction and intensity of cell selection: primary population of the isolated cells, strain formation and established strain. Cell populations of established strains were found to exhibit physiological and genetic homeostasis due to the stabilizing selection.

For the first time the possibility for long-term (over 30 years of study) stable in vitro super-synthesis of bioactive substances in Rauwolfia serpentina and Panax ginseng cell lines was demonstrated thus opening a new vista to develop industrial technologies for production of valuable herbal pharmaceuticals for medicine. As demonstrated by the example of Panax ginseng, poliployidization of cell cultures may result in increased biomass yield but the highest secondary metabolites accumulation is typical for the cultures comparable by ploidy level to intact plants.

Dynamics of cell systems in vitro has been described using the phenomenology equation. Networks of the appropriate oscillator interactions have been constructed for highly productive tissue culture strains of medicinal plants under various maintenance conditions.

The plant individual development was shown to be accompanied by the changes in the pattern of high-molecular weight nuclear DNA cleavage indicating structural and functional reorganization of DNA within chromatin. The difference in the size of chromatin loop domains consisted of the different DNA repeats was found in rye, as well as their enhanced cleavage in non-proliferating cells indicating the increased availability of matrix-associated regions to nucleases.

Fig. 1. Ajmaline super-synthesis in long-term stable Rauwolfia serpentina in vitro cultures. A – Ajmaline production in phytohormone-independent R. serpentina cell lines of related origin (mg/mL). B – General view of callus and cell suspension R. serpentina culture. C – PCR-analysis of R. serpentina plant and cell lines: 1 – plant; 2-6 – 1990-91 years’ samples of R-31, A, M, K-20 and K-27 cell lines; 7-10 – 2004 year’s samples of K-27, growing for more than 10 years on different media
Studies on genetic polymorphism and genome plasticity in plants under extreme environmental conditions.

Comprehensive studies involving cytogenetics, molecular genetics, biotechnology, biometrics, physiological approaches have been initiated to elucidate the features of variability and selection events in natural plant populations and plant cell populations in vitro as a basis for adaptation to growth conditions. Preliminary genetic analysis of Deschampsia antarctica using different types of DNA markers revealed difference in the level of genetic diversity between samples from two regions of Maritime Antarctic spaced apart from one another in the latitudinal direction. Population-genetic analysis using the DNA markers showed relatively high levels of genetic diversity and species specific features of genetic structure in yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea) and dwarf iris (Iris pumila), which probably resulted from individual evolutionary history of the populations.

Fig. 2. Polymorphic ISSR-PCR profiles (primer UBC #840) of I. pumila plants from different locations of Mykolaiyvska and Poltavska obl.: 1–11 – vil. Migiia; 12–20 – vil. Aliaudy; 21–30 – vil. Kolarovo; 31–40 – vil. Andriivka. M – “100 bp Ladder” molecular weight marker
Fig. 3. Metaphase plates of Deschampsia antarctica (a) and Iris pumila (b,c) stained with acetoorsein (a,b) and DAPI (с)
Search for and development of new molecular genetic and cytological markers to assess the genetic diversity of rare plant species.

To substantiate and enhance the efficiency of conservation measures the search is carried out for new molecular genetic and cytogenetic markers that would allow us to assess the genetic diversity of some rare plant species of the Ukraine. Primary screening allowed us to select polymorphic PCR primers specific to different genomic sequences. Molecular genetic analysis of yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea) and dwarf iris (Iris pumila) plants from a number of model populations from Ukraine showed the possibility of using selected PCR markers for assessment of genetic diversity as well as for analysis of the features of its distribution within and between populations.

Studies on the antimutagenic and anticancer properties of herbal remedies and development of approaches for their primary screening.

Bacterial test system based on the wild strain of E.coli and its bacteriophage MS2-induced mutants has been developed. The former serves as an indicator of toxic properties of the tested substance, and the latter represents a specific test-culture simulating a tumor cell. Comparison of the data obtained for higher organisms and for the test system shows its adequate response to the substances already recognized for their anticancer properties. The developed test system is now used for primary screening and investigation of antibacterial and antimutagenic activities of extracts from natural plants and cultured tissues.

National Grants:

Projects of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine:

  • 2012–2016 Project: “Structural and functional genomics for the studies on some issues related to function of viruses, bacteria and higher eukaryotes”
  • 2012–2014 National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and Polish Academy of Sciences Joint Research Project: “Study on ecological and genetic mechanisms of plants adaptation to extreme environments”
  • 2010–2014 N 39/12 Project: “Comparative genomics for gene pool diagnostics in some endangered species of Ukrainian flora”

Project of National Antarctic Scientific Center, State Agency on Science, Innovations and Informatization of Ukraine:

  • 2010–2012 N Н12/2012 Project: “Development of bioindication system for assessment of climate change in Maritime Antarctica by the parameters of terrestrial ecosystems dynamics”

Projects of State Fund of Fundamental Research:

  • 2013–2014 F53/108-2013 Joint Project of the State Fund for Fundamental Research (DFFD) and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR): “Biological and soil processes in unique tundras of Western Antarctic: biogeography, biogeochemistry and ecology of isolated geosytems in temporal and spatial scale”


with Ukrainian organizations:

  • Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Kyiv)
  • Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Lviv)
  • National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” (Kyiv)
  • Ternopil National Pedagogical University named after Volodymyr Hnatiuk (Ternopil)
  • Yurii Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University (Chernivtsi)
  • M. G. Kholodny Institute of Botany, NASU (Kyiv)
  • Institute of Ecology of the Carpathians, NASU (Lviv)
  • National Scientific Centre “Institute of Agriculture of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences” (Chabany)
  • M. M. Grishko National Botanical Garden, NASU (Kyiv)
  • National Antarctic Scientific Center of Ukraine, State Agency on Science, Innovations and Informatization of Ukraine (Kyiv)

with foreign organizations:

  • Saratov Chernyshevsky State University (Saratov, Russia)
  • Saint Petersburg State University (Saint Petersburg, Russia)
  • Institute of Nature Conservation, PAS (Krakow, Poland)
  • John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (Lublin, Poland)
  • University of Gdansk (Gdansk, Poland)
  • W. Szafer Institute of Botany, PAS (Kraków, Poland)
  • Lehigh University (Bethlehem, USA)
  • Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USA)

Selected publications:

  1. Podolich, O., Prekrasna, I., Parnikoza, I., ...Dykyi, E., Kozyrovska, N. First record of the endophytic bacteria of deschampsia antarctica e. desv. From two distant localities of the maritime antarctic. Czech Polar Reports, 2021, 11(1), pp. 134–153
  2. Twardovska, M., Konvalyuk, I., Lystvan, K., ...Parnikoza, I., Kunakh, V. Phenolic and flavonoid contents in Deschampsia antarctica plants growing in nature and cultured in vitro. Polish Polar Research, 2021, 42(2), pp. 97–116
  3. Ivannikov, R., Laguta, I., Anishchenko, V., ...Myryuta, G., Kunakh, V. Composition and radical scavenging activity of the extracts from deschampsia antarctica é. desv. plants grown in situ and in vitro. Chemistry Journal of Moldova, 2021, 16(1), pp. 105–114
  4. Bublyk, O., Parnikoza, I., Kunakh, V. Assessing the Levels of Polymorphism and Differentiation in Iris pumila L. Populations Using Three Types of PCR Markers. Cytology and Genetics, 2021, 55(1), pp. 36–46
  5. Bublyk, O., Andreev, I., Parnikoza, I., Kunakh, V. Population genetic structure of iris pumila L. In Ukraine: Effects of habitat fragmentation. Acta Biologica Cracoviensia Series Botanica, 2020, 62(1), pp.51-61
  6. A.M.Rabokon, Y.V.Pirko, A. Ye.Demkovych, I.O.Andreev, I.Yu.Parnikoza, I.A.Kozeretska, Z.Yue, V.A.Kunak, Y.B.Blume. Intron length polymorphism of β-tubulin genes in Deschampsia antarctica É. Desv. across the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Polar Science. Volume 19, March 2019, Pages 151-154
  7. Nuzhyna, N., Parnikoza, I., Poronnik, O., ...Kozeretska, I., Kunakh, V. Anatomical variations of Deschampsia antarctica É. Desv. Plants from distant Antarctic regions, in vitro culture, and in relations to Deschampsia caespitosa (L.) P. Beauv. Polish Polar Research, 2019, 40(4), pp.361-383
  8. Ishchenko O.O., Panchuk І.І., Andreev І.O., Kunakh V.A., Volkov R.A. Molecular organization of 5S ribosomal DNА of Deschapmpsia antarctica. Cytology and Genetics. – 2018. – Vol. 52, No. 6. – P. 416–421
  9. Navrotska D., Andreev I., Betekhtin A., Rojek M., Parnikoza I., Myryuta G., Poronnik O., Miryuta N., Szymanowska-Pułka J., Grakhov V., Ivannikov R., Hasterok R., Kunakh V. Assessment of the molecular cytogenetic, morphometric and biochemical parameters of Deschampsia antarctica from its southern range limit in maritime Antarctic. Polish Polar Research. –2018. – Vol.38, No.4. Doi: 10.24425/118759
  10. I. Parnikoza, A. Rozhok, P. Convey, M. Veselski, J. Esefeld, R. Ochyra, O. Mustafa, C. Braun, H.-U. Peter, J. Smyklam V. Kunakh, I. Kozeretska. Spread of Antarctic vegetation by the kelp gull: comparison of two maritime Antarctic regions. Polar Biology. 2018.
  11. Navrotska D., Andreev I., Parnikoza I., Spiridonova K., Poronnik O., Miryuta N., Myryuta G., Zahrychuk O., Drobyk N., Kunakh V. Comprehensive characterization of cultivated in vitro Deschampsia antarctica E. Desv. plants with different chromosome numbers. Cytology and Genetics. 2017. – Vol. 51, No. 6, P. 422–431
  12. Amosova A.V., Bolsheva N.L., Zoshchuk S.A., Twardovska M.O., Yurkevich O.Y., Andreev I.O., Samatadze T.E., Badaeva E.D., Kunakh V.A., Muravenko O.V.Comparative molecular cytogenetic characterization of seven Deschampsia (Poaceae) species. PloS one. – 2017. – Vol.12, N4. – e0175760. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175760
  13. Kaczmarek Ł., Parnikoza, I., Gawlak M., Esefeld J., Peter H.-U., Kozeretska I., Roszkowska M. Tardigrades from Larus dominicanus Lichtenstein, 1823 nests on the Argentine Islands (maritime Antarctic). Polar Biology – 2017: 1-19. DOI: 10.1007/s00300-017-2190-4
  14. Loisel J., Yu Z., W. Beilman D. W., Kaiser K. & Parnikoza I. Peatland ecosystem processes in the Maritime Antarctic during warm climates. Scientific Reports. – 2017. – Vol.7. – 12344. DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-12479-0
  15. Halıcı M. G., Güllü M., Parnikoza I. Sagediopsis bayozturkii sp. nov. on the lichen Acarosporamacrocyclos from Antarctica with a key to the known species of the genus (Ascomycota, Adelococcaceae). Polar Record.- 2017:1-5. doi:10.1017/S0032247417000043
  16. Abakumov E. V., Parnikoza I.Yu., Vlasov D. Yu., Lupachev A. V. Biogenic–abiogenic interaction in Antarctic ornithogenic soils. Biogenic-abiogenic interactions in natural and anthropogenic systems. Part of the series “Lecture Notes in Earth System Sciences”. – Springer International Publishing, 2016: 237-248. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-24987-2_19.
  17. Yudakova, O.I., Tyrnov, V.S., Kunakh, V.A., Kozeretskaya I. A., Parnikoza I. Yu. Adaptation of the seed reproduction system to conditions of Maritime Antarctic in Deschampsia antarctica E. Desv. Russ. J. Dev. Biol. 2016, 47: 138-146.
  18. L. T. Ellis, I. Parnikoza, V. Plášek, S. Sabovljević, A. D. Sabovljević, P. Saha, Md Nehal Aziz, W. Schröder, J. Váňa, J. van Rooy, J. Wang, Y.–J. Yoon & J. H. Kim. New national and regional bryophyte records, 47. Journal of Bryology. 2016, 47(2):1–17.
  19. Kunakh VA, Twardovska MO, Andreev IO. Features chromosomal variability in tissue culture plants Deschampsia antarctica Desv. with different numbers of chromosomes. The Bulletin of Vavylov Society of Geneticists and Breeders of Ukraine. 2016, 14(1): 36–43.
  20. Drobyk NM, Grytsak LR, Mel’nyk VМ, Kravets NB, Konvalyuk II, Twardovska MO, Kunakh VA. In vitro manipulation and propagation of Gentiana L. species from the Ukrainian flora. In: Rybczyński J.J., Davey M.R., Mikula A. (Eds.). The Gentianaceae. Vol. 2. Biotechnology and applications. – Springer Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London. 2015; P:45-79.
  21. Kunakh VA, Mel’nyk VМ, Drobyk NМ, Andreev IO, Spiridonova KV, Twardovska MO, Konvalyuk II, Adonin VI. Genetic variation induced by tissue and organ culture in Gentiana species. In: Rybczyński J.J., Davey M.R., Mikula A. (Eds.). The Gentianaceae. Vol. 2. Biotechnology and applications. – Springer Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London. 2015;P:199-238.
  22. Drobyk NM, Mel’nyk VМ, Twardovska MO, Konvalyuk II, Kunakh VA. Tissue and organ cultures of Gentians as potential sources of xanthones and flavonoids. In: Rybczyński J.J., Davey M.R., Mikula A. (Eds.). The Gentianaceae. Vol. 2. Biotechnology and applications. – Springer Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London. 2015;P:307-317.
  23. Amosova AV, Bolsheva NL, Samatadze TE, Twardovska MO... at all. Molecular cytogenetic analysis of Deschampsia antarctica Desv. (Poaceae), Maritime Antarctic. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(9). – e0138878. doi: 10.1371/journal.
  24. Мosula MZ, Andreev IO, Bublyk OM, Mel’nyk VМ, Konvalyuk II, Drobyk NМ, Kunakh VA. Molecular markers to assess genetic diversity of Gentiana lutea L. from the Ukrainian Carpathians. Plant Genetic Resources. 2015; DOI:
  25. Parnikoza I, Miryuta N, Ozheredova I, Kozeretska I, Smykla J, Kunakh V, Convey P. Comparative analysis of Deschampsia antarctica Desv. population adaptability in the natural environment of the Admiralty Bay region (King George Island, maritime Antarctic). Polar Biology. 2015;38(9):1401-1411.
  26. Ozheredova IP, Parnikoza IYu, Poronnik OO, Kozeretska IA, Demidov SV, Kunakh VA. Mechanisms of Antarctic vascular plant adaptation to abiotic environmental factors. Cytol. Genet. 2015;49(2):139–145.
  27. Mel’nyk VМ, Drobyk NМ, Twardovska MO, Kunakh VA. Karyology of European species of genus Gentiana L. In: Rybczyński J.J., Davey M.R., Mikula A. (Eds.). The Gentianaceae. Characterization and Ecology. Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer. 2014;1:219-230.
  28. Bublyk OM, Andreev IO, Kalendar RN, Spiridonova KV, Kunakh VA. Efficiency of different PCRbased marker systems for assessment of Iris pumila genetic diversity. Biologia. 2013; 68 (4): 61320. doi:10.2478/s11756-013-0192-4
  29. Kunakh VA. Evolution of cell populations in vitro: peculiarities, driving forces, mechanisms and consequences. Biopolym. Cell. 2013; 29(4): 29531. doi:10.7124/bc.000824
  30. Bublyk OM, Andreev IO, Spiridonova KV, Kunakh VA. Genetic variability in regenerated plants of Ungernia victoris. Biologia Plantarum. 2012; 56(2):395–400. doi:10.1007/s10535-012-0106-2
  31. Miryuta NYu, Kunakh VA. Dynamics of cell population systems in vitro. III. Hypothesis of cell differential process self­control and it's phenomenology realization by the example of Rauwolfia serpentina Benth. tissues culture "Biotechnology" J. 2012; 5(3):40–52.
  32. Parnikoza IYu, Loro P, Miryuta NYu. Kunakh VA, Kozeretska IA. The influence of some environmental factors on cytological and biometric parameters and chlorophyll content of Deschampsia antarctica Desv in maritime Antarctic. Cytol. Genet. 2011. 45(3):170–6. doi:10.3103/S0095452711030078
  33. Konvalyuk II, Hrytsak LR, Mel'nyk VM, Drobyk NM, Kunakh VA. Obtaining and characterization of isolated root culture from plants of genus Gentiana. "Biotechnology" J. 2011; 4(3): 29–35.
  34. Volkov RA, Kozeretska IA, Kyryachenko SS, et al. Molecular evolution and variability of ITS1–ITS2 in populations of Deschampsia antarctica from two regions of the maritime Antarctic. Polar Science. 2010; 4(3):469–78. doi:10.1016/j.polar.2010.04.011
  35. Pererva TP, Miryuta AYu, Moysa LN, Mozhylevskaya LP, Kunakh VA. Interaction of plant extracts of Ungernia victoris, Rhodiola rosea and Polyscias filicifolia with a bacterial cell. Cytol. Genet. 2010; 44(4):221–226. doi: 10.3103/S0095452710040067
  36. Kunakh VA, Mozhylevskaya LP, Potapchuk EA, Musyka VI, Kolonina IV. Obtaining culture of Ungernia victoris tissues and its specificities in growing on nutrient media of various composition. Biotechnology. 2007; 1:14–21.
  37. Kunakh V. Biotechnology of Medicinal Plants. Genetic and Physiologically–Biochemical basis. K.: Logos; 2005.