Biological Communications <p>Biological Communications is a rebranded new title of the former journal «Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Series 3. Biology». The journal was founded as «Vestnik of Leningrad University» in 1946.&nbsp;Since 1953, it was published under several series. In 1956 the series «Biology» was first established.&nbsp;As its predecessors, Biological Communications is published at a quarterly&nbsp;basis.</p> Saint Petersburg State University en-US Biological Communications 2542-2154 <p>Articles of Biological Communications are open access distributed under the terms of the <a title="License Agreement" href="/about/submissions#LicenseAgreement" target="_blank">License Agreement</a> with Saint Petersburg State University, which permits to the authors unrestricted distribution and self-archiving free of charge.</p> How not to get lost in the literature woods? Yegor Malashichev ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-05-04 2018-05-04 62 4 217–218 217–218 10.21638/11701/spbu03.2017.401 Phylogenetic relationships of psammosteid heterostracans (Pteraspidiformes), Devonian jawless vertebrates <p>Psammosteid heterostracans are a group (suborder Psammosteoidei) of Devonian-age jawless vertebrates, which is included in the order Pteraspidiformes. The whole group of psammosteids is represented by numerous species (more than 40); their phylogenetic relationships are still poorly known and deserve further study. Classical researchers of the psammosteids, such as D. Obruchev, E. Mark-Kurik and L. Halstead Tarlo, had different views on the phylogeny of the group (e.g. origins and evolution of <em>Psammosteus</em>). To check the modern hypotheses of psammosteid origins from various Pteraspidiformes and to clarify psammosteid interrelationships, the most complete phylogeny of this group (38 ingroup taxa + juvenile <em>Drepanapsis</em>) is presented here. Different methods of data analysis were used to explore the psammosteid data set, including equally weighted characters versus implied weighting. According to the results of the phylogenetic analysis, the monophyletic status of the group and their early development from the Pteraspidiformes are supported. The diagnoses and interrelationships of many taxa are clarified. Two new genera are proposed (<em>Vladimirolepis</em>&nbsp;gen. nov. and <em>Elgaia</em> gen. nov.), and two subfamilies are erected (Placosteinae subfam nov. and Psammosteinae Traquair).</p> Vadim Glinskiy ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-05-04 2018-05-04 62 4 219–243 219–243 10.21638/11701/spbu03.2017.402 Ecological and biological studies in the haplic chernozems pacnic soils area in the Central Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria) <p>The northern macroslope of the Central Caucasus and adjacent areas of the Middle Ciscaucasia belong to the Northeast Caucasian (semi-desert) type of vertical zonation. This type, which includes terskiy and elbrusskiy variants of vertical zonation, differs from the Northwest Caucasian vertical zonation by general xerophytization of landscapes. The Haplic Chernozems Pacnic soils of Kabardino-Balkaria formed within steppe zone of mentioned variants are almost entirely involved in agricultural use; natural ecosystems with characteristic species composition of natural vegetation and mesofauna were preserved only in small areas inconvenient for arable activity. Characteristics of the current ecological-biological state of the steppe ecosystem components from the Haplic Chernozems soils area (soil — vegetation — earthworms) is given. The values of synecological indices (Shannon’s, Simpson’s, Pielou’s, Hartley’s, and integral) characterize high floristic and phytocenosis diversity, and synantropization indices correspond to average levels. Earthworms are in abundance and represent the largest part of the mass of soil organisms in species composition, which corresponds to steppe zonal conditions and testifies to the dominance of the saprotrophic complex. The correlation and factor analysis by the principal components method shows wide ranges of interdependence in functioning of ecosystems components: between diversity of biotic communities and biological properties (humus content, microbial biomass carbon contents (C<sub>mic</sub>), intensity of microbial respiration, enzymatic activity) and physicochemical properties (pH of soil solution, field moisture, soil density) of Haplic Chernozems.</p> Tatiana Uligova Olga Gorobtsova Nelli Tsepkova Irina Rapoport Fatima Gedgafova Rustam Tembotov ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-05-04 2018-05-04 62 4 244–255 244–255 10.21638/11701/spbu03.2017.403 Effects of early sensory deprivation on spatial learning in adult rats <p>Following vibrissae removal in early ontogenesis from P1 (post-natal day 1) to P30, three-month old rats were trained to run for food in an 8-arm radial maze. Training started at the age of three months. Adult rats demonstrated ability to perform the behavioral task; however, their performance was not as good as in the control group. Our findings revealed the differences in the rats exploratory strategy and key behavioral tactics of entering the maze arms at a certain angle. The results show that active vibrissae sensing plays an important role in shaping rat behavioral tactics during spatial learning in the 8-arm radial maze.</p> Natalia Kurzina Irina Aristova Anna Volnova ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-05-04 2018-05-04 62 4 256–260 256–260 10.21638/11701/spbu03.2017.404 Optogenetics: Applications in neurobiology <p>Commonly used neuromodulation techniques such as electrical stimulation or pharmacologic intervention have some technical limitations that preclude dissecting particular cell- or pathway-specific functions in the brain, which is composed of billions of neurons. An advancement of molecular genetics techniques has provided a novel method in neuroscience called optogenetics. Optogenetics uses a combination of genetic and optical methods that provide a means to, with great temporal precision, experimentally control the activation or suppression of specific neuronal sub-populations in heterogeneous brain regions where multiple neuronal subtypes exist; this approach can be performed even on freely moving animals. Thus, this tool can uniquely assist in establishing causality between the disorder and the underlying pathology. Ongoing exploration of pathological mechanisms in various animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders with precise tools such as optogenetics can provide significant advances in the development of more focused approaches to treatment of these disorders. Here, we selectively highlight the major advancements gained by the use of optogenetic tools to uncover at circuit levels mechanisms relevant to neuropsychiatric disorders.</p> Maria Mikhailova Alex Deal Evgeny Budygin Raul Gainetdinov ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-05-04 2018-05-04 62 4 261–271 261–271 10.21638/11701/spbu03.2017.405 Malfunctions in synaptic membrane trafficking in early pathology of Parkinson’s disease: new molecular clues <p>The midbrain dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra and the ventral tegmental area play vital roles in the regulation of voluntary movement, emotion and reward in humans. These neurons are highly metabolic and are under constant oxidative stress. The dopaminergic neurons form extensive synaptic projections to the striatum. When these neurons start dying or when their synaptic connections fail, humans develop Parkinson's disease. This disease is accompanied by the accumulation of toxic α-synuclein-containing protein aggregates in nigrostriatal processes. Synucleins accumulate in a majority of healthy nerve terminals in the central nervous system, but what causes the formation of pathological synuclein aggregates is unclear. Recent studies point out that the interface between membrane trafficking in the nerve terminal and the autophagy–lysosomal pathway is the site for the aggregate assembly. An urgent goal is to find therapeutic targets at early stages of the disease when neurons are still functional.</p> Elena Sopova Olga Korenkova Oleg Shupliakov ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-05-04 2018-05-04 62 4 272–277 272–277 10.21638/11701/spbu03.2017.406 Developing translational biological psychiatry: learning from history to build the future <p>Psychiatric disorders are among the most complex human disorders that, albeit often difficult to diagnose and treat, are widespread in modern society. Biological psychiatry studies biological functions of the central nervous system as mental disorders develop. Today’s biological psychiatry is facing multiple conceptual problems that prevent our deeper understanding of disease pathogenesis and delay the invention of new treatments. Thus, providing a historical context to this rapidly developing field may help scientists better understand the existing challenges and their potential solutions. Here, we discuss the main conceptual problems and paradigms of biological psychiatry, including the lack of reproducibility and/or valid theories, through an historical overview of its role in addressing theoretical and clinical questions. We propose a wider use of the translational approach in psychiatry to expand our analyses of psychiatric disorders to other species, and as a tool to create and further develop theories and concepts in this field.</p> Konstantin Demin Darya Meshalkina Anton Lakstygal Allan Kalueff ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2018-05-04 2018-05-04 62 4 278–292 278–292 10.21638/11701/spbu03.2017.407