Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Recipient of Best Student Oral Presentation

AwardMicroanatomy of the endoparasitic copepod Nucellicola sp. (Copepoda: Chitonophilidae) [oral presentation]

I am a Master’s student at Saint Petersburg State University, and my primary research interests are the morphology, diversity and evolution of parasitic copepods. At the International Conference on Copepoda 2022, I presented a part of my Master’s thesis dedicated to the endoparasitic copepod Nucellicola sp. (family Chitonophilidae). It is a unique representative of chitonophilids, whose females have reached the highest specialisation to a parasitic lifestyle.

So far, the genus Nucellicola includes one species, Nucellicola holmanae, found to inhabit the dog whelk, Nucella lapillus, on the east coast of Great Britain. Only a few studies have been done on these organisms, so many aspects of their biology remain unknown. There is only information that the female body comprises trophic and reproductive parts and the description of the reproductive system.

I started studying Nucellicola sp. as my Bachelor’s thesis in 2020 when we found presumably new species of these parasites in gastropods collected from both the White and Barents Seas. We have obtained a lot of intriguing data on their morphology, showing that the trophic part not only gives rise to rootlets but also forms the egg-tube — a structure in which the embryos develop. Such a highly transformed body plan is very unusual among female chitonophilids which typically have exhibit egg sacs attached to the reproductive part (also called “ectosome”). In addition, we revealed a well-developed muscular system in the female body and described the cuticle ultrastructure.

The e-ICOC 2022 was the first international conference I participated in, and it is a great honour to receive one of the Student Oral Presentation Awards. This event became a wonderful memory that will be a great inspiration for further research work. I am sincerely thankful to all members of the organising committee and to my colleagues who helped me in the preparation of my presentation.