Sector of storage and analysis of microorganisms | Institute of Molecular Genetics

Petrova Maya Aleksandrovna


List of staff

Petrova Maya Alexandrovna, Doctor of Biological Sciences
Mindlin Sophia Zakharovna, leading researcher, Doctor of Biological Sciences
Khachikian Natalia Anushavanovna, Senior Engineer


Main directions of research

Scientific investigations of the sector are aimed at studying of horizontal gene transfer in bacteria. There are several key areas of research under this theme:
  1. The study of molecular structure and transposition mechanisms of mercury resistance transposons; determination of their role in horizontal gene transfer.
  2. The study of antibiotic resistance genes of ancient bacteria and of mobile elements involved in their horizontal transfer; comparative analysis of genetic elements of ancient and modern bacteria.
  3. The study of the structure and evolution of plasmids and their role in the adaptation of bacteria to various environmental conditions.
  4. Participation in the work of the Laboratory of RNA biology and epigenetics in their research of RNA interference in bacteria and its key players: proteins from the family of the Argonauts. Sector staff studies the role of proteins-Argonauts of various types in the suppression of the activity of mobile genetic elements (transposons, IS-elements, plasmids and phages) and other possible protective functions of different types of bacterial RNA-interference systems.

Main scientific results

A collection of mercury resistance transposons isolated from different environmental bacteria was created and characterized. Many of these transposons (Tn5041, Tn5042, Tn 5044, Tn5053, Tn5070) were identified and described for the first time. Studies of ancient bacterial strains showed that mer-operons and associated transposons were widely distributed in environmental bacterial populations long before the beginning of human activities. It was demonstrated that Tn5053 insertions require the presence of a functional cognate resolvase gene encoding a site-specific recombination system outside a transposon. It was shown also that the ancient mercury resistance transposon Tn5060 is the most closely related to the as yet hypothetical immediate ancestor (TnX) of modern clinical multiresistance transposons.
A unique collection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria isolated from permafrost sediments of Arctic and Antarctic has been created. Evidence of the origin of clinical antibiotic resistance genes from environmental bacteria was obtained. Plasmids, IS-elements and transposons, participating in the horizontal transfer of resistance genes were identified and studied. For the first time evidence of the ancient origin of mobile antibiotic resistance integrons were obtained. 
To study of proteins-Argonauts bacterial strains of various taxonomic groups, which contained different types of proteins-Argonauts in their genomes, were specially selected in the German collection of standard microorganisms (DSMZ) and ordered.


  1. Kholodii GY, Mindlin SZ, Bass IA, Yurieva OV, Minakhina SV, Nikiforov VG. 1995. Four genes, two ends, and a res region are involved in transposition of Tn5053: a paradigm for a novel family of transposons carrying either a mer operon or an integron. Mol Microbiol. 17: 1189-1200.
  2. Bogdanova ES, Bass IA, Minakhin LS, Petrova MA, Mindlin SZ, Volodin AA, Kalyaeva ES, Tiedje JM, Hobman JL, Brown NL, Nikiforov VG.1998. Horizontal spread of mer operons among gram-positive bacteria in natural environments. Microbiology 144: 609-620.
  3. Minakhina S, Kholodii G, Mindlin S, Yurieva O, Nikiforov V. 1999. Tn5053 family transposons are res site hunters sensing plasmidal res sites occupied by cognate resolvases. Mol Microbiol. 33: 1059-1068.
  4. Kholodii G, Yurieva O, Mindlin S, Gorlenko Z, Rybochkin V, Nikiforov V. 2000. Tn5044, a novel Tn3 family transposon coding for temperature-sensitive mercury resistance. Res Microbiol. 151: 291-302.
  5. Mindlin S, Kholodii G, Gorlenko Z, Minakhina S, Minakhin L, Kalyaeva E, Kopteva A, Petrova M, Yurieva O, Nikiforov V. 2001. Mercury resistance transposons of gram-negative environmental bacteria and their classification. Res Microbiol. 152: 811-822.
  6. Kholodii G, Gorlenko Zh, Mindlin S, Hobman J, Nikiforov V. 2002. Tn5041-like transposons: molecular diversity, evolutionary relationships and distribution of distinct variants in environmental bacteria. Microbiology 148: 3569-3582.
  7. Petrova MA, Mindlin SZ, Gorlenko ZhM, Kaliaeva ES, Soina VS, Bogdanova ES. 2002. Mercury-resistant bacteria from permafrost sediments and prospects for their use in comparative studies of mercury resistance determinants. Genetika 38: 1569-1574. In Russian.
  8. Kholodii G, Mindlin S, Petrova M, Minakhina S. 2003. Tn5060 from the Siberian permafrost is most closely related to the ancestor of Tn21 prior to integron acquisition. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 226: 251-255.
  9. Kholodii G, Mindlin S, Gorlenko Z, Petrova M, Hobman J, Nikiforov V. 2004. Translocation of transposition-deficient (TndPKLH2-like) transposons in the natural environment: mechanistic insights from the study of adjacent DNA sequences. Microbiology 150: 979-992.
  10. Mindlin S, Minakhin L, Petrova M, Kholodii G, Minakhina S, Gorlenko Z, Nikiforov V. 2005. Present-day mercury resistance transposons are common in bacteria preserved in permafrost grounds since the Upper Pleistocene. Res Microbiol. 156: 994-1004.
  11. Mindlin SZ, Petrova MA, Bass IA, Gorlenko ZhM. 2006. Origin, evolution, and migration of drug resistance genes. Genetika, 42: 1495-1511. Review. In Russian.
  12. Mindlin SZ, Soina VS, Ptrova MA, Gorlenko ZhM. 2008. Isolation of antibiotic resistance bacterial strains from East Siberia permafrost sediments. Genetika 44: 36-44. In Russian.
  13. Petrova M, Gorlenko Z, Mindlin S. 2009. Molecular structure and translocation of a multiple antibiotic resistance region of a Psychrobacter psychrophilus permafrost strain. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 296: 190-197.
  14. Petrova M, Gorlenko Z, Mindlin S. 2011. Tn5045, a novel integron-containing antibiotic and chromate resistance transposon isolated from a permafrost bacterium. Res Microbiol. 162: 337-345.
  15. Mindlin S. Petrova M. Mercury Resistance transposons. In: Bacterial Integrative Mobile Genetic Elements; Austin, TX: Landes Bioscience; 2012. Review
  16. Petrova M, Shcherbatova N, Gorlenko Z, Mindlin S. 2013. A new subgroup of the IS3 family and properties of its representative member ISPpy1. Microbiology 159: 1900-1910.
  17. Petrova M, Shcherbatova N, Kurakov A, Mindlin S. Petrova M, Shcherbatova N, Kurakov A, Mindlin S. 2014. Genomic characterization and integrative properties of phiSMA6 and phiSMA7, two novel filamentous bacteriophages of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. Arch Virol. 159: 1293-1303.
  18. Petrova M, Kurakov A, Shcherbatova N, Mindlin S. 2014. Genetic structure and biological properties of the first ancient multiresistance plasmid pKLH80 isolated from a permafrost bacterium. Microbiology, 160: 2253-2263.
  19. Anton Kurakov, Sofia Mindlin, Alexey Beletsky, Natalya Shcherbatova, Andrey Rakitin, Aleksandra Ermakova, Andrey Mardanov, Mayya Petrova. 2016. The ancient small mobilizable plasmid pALWED1.8 harboring a new variant of the non-cassette streptomycin/spectinomycin resistance gene aadA27. Plasmid 84-85:36-43. 
  20. Sofia Mindlin, Anatoliy Petrenko, Anton Kurakov, Alexey Beletsky, Andrey Mardanov, Mayya Petrova. 2016. Resistance of Permafrost and Modern Acinetobacter lwoffii Strains to Heavy Metals and Arsenic Revealed by Genome Analysis. BioMed Research International, 2016:3970831.