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Phone: +7 (812) 4206831

Fax: +7 (812) 4507310

Senior Research Scientist  of the Department of Karyosystematics,
Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences


Leading Research Scientist of the Department of Entomology,
Faculty of Biology and Soil Science,

St. Petersburg State University,




(2008- present) Senior Research Scientist, Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia

(2000- present) Leading Research Scientist, St. Petersburg State University, Russia

(1992-1999) Senior Research Scientist, St. Petersburg State University, Russia

(1987-1991) Assistant Professor of Entomology, St. Petersburg State University, Russia

(1980-1986) Research Fellow, St. Petersburg State University, Russia

Associate appointment

(2005-present) Harvard University, USA (Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Comparative Zoology)


(2000) Doctor of Science in Entomology, St. Petersburg State University, Russia.  Thesis title: Genome organisation and evolution in Lepidoptera.

(1986) PhD in Entomology, St. Petersburg State University, Russia.

(1980) BS in Biology, St. Petersburg State University, Russia 

Research experience and research interests

Evolutionary biology

I am interested in studying the speciation, especially interactions between chromosomal change and evolution of pre-zygotic reproductive isolation and their role in generating the species diversity. Recently our team pioneered the use of new tests and new molecular phylogenetic comparative approaches to demonstrate the combination of these two processes as an engine of evolutionary diversification (Lukhtanov et al. 2005, Kandul et al. 2007).

Cytogenetics and karyosystematics of insects

We developed new and advanced microscopic techniques for precise analysis of insect chromosomes (Lukhtanov, Dantchenko, 2002; Lukhtanov et al., 2006). Chromosome sets (i.e. karyotypes) of more than 500 species of Lepidoptera and Trichoptera have been studied using these techniques. This cytogenetic information has been used for detection and delimitation of numerous cryptic species and for investigations of trends of chromosomal change in different Lepidoptera families. Parallel processes of explosive chromosome evolution have been detected and analyzed in details in several butterfly genera. A new type of highly ordered spatial karyotype organization has been discovered in insects with holokinetic chromosomes.

Systematics, phylogenetics, taxonomy and biodiversity studies of Lepidoptera

In systematic entomology, my current research is concerned with revisionary taxonomy, systematics, phylogenetics and phylogeography of Lepidoptera. It combines traditional methods of museum and morphological studies with more recent approaches such as molecular phylogenetics, DNA barcoding, and cytotaxonomy.

Field entomology

Organization and participation in 35 long-term (1-5 months) entomological expeditions to different, poorly explored regions of Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan and Turkmenistan. During these expeditions, more than 70% of Palaearctic butterfly species has been studied in the field with a special focus on biology of species and analysis of contact and overlap zones between closely related taxa. This particular experience is important for delimitation of species especially when combined with recent methods of molecular taxonomy.

Current research group:

Alexander Dantchenko, PhD student working on taxonomy of Agrodiaetus  butterflies

Nazar Shapoval, PhD student working on hybridization and speciation in butterflies

Maria Vishnevskaya, MSc student working on molecular phylogenetics of Agrodiaetus  butterflies

Alisa Vershinina, BSc student working on chromosomal evolution in butterflies


Past postgraduate students:

Dr. Jurate de Prins (now Lepidoptera taxonomist at Royal Africa Museum, Tervuren, Belgium)

Dr. Nikolai Kandul (now postdoc at Duke University, USA)

Dr. Natalia Belyakova (now head of the Department of the Biological Plant Protection at Plant Protection Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia)


Prizes and awards:

2005 Publication in Nature (Lukhtanov et al., 2005) rated by Science as one of the main scientific breakthroughs of the year 2005 (Evolution in Action, Science, vol. 310, p.1878; http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/310/5756/1878/

2003 St. Petersburg State University First Prize for a cycle of works in entomology


Grants awarded (selected list):

ICREA foundation (Spain). Combining morphological, cytological and molecular data to study the taxonomy of Iberian Rhopalocera (Lepidoptera: Hesperioidea+Papilionoidea) (2007-2010).

Russian Foundation of Basic Research (RFBR): Principles of morphological evolution in insects at early stages of taxonomical divergence (2008-2010).

RFBR: Analysis of cryptic species diversity in the model groups of butterflies (2006-2008).

Royal Society (UK): Online synonymic list of Palaearctic butterflies (2005-2006).

DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany): New approaches in the studying the chromosomes of Lepidoptera (2002 2003).

Grant of the Milton Fund (Harvard University, USA): Chromosomes and speciation: molecular analysis of an engine of evolutionary diversification (2003).

RFBR: Some principles of morphologycal and karyotypic evolution in insects (2002-2004).

RFBR: Morphology of Lepidoptera and Trichoptera (1999-2001).

RFBR: Systematics and phylogeny of butterflies (1996-1998).

RFBR: Systematics and phylogeny of higher taxa of Lepidoptera (1993-1997).

RFBR: Karyological methods in the insect taxonomy (1993-1997).


Synergistic activities:

(2006-present) Member of consortium for European Lepidoptera Systematics (www.lepsys.eu)

(1990-present) Member of the European Lepidopterological Society (SEL)

(1980-present) Member of the Russian Entomological Society

(2007-present) Editorial Bord of Comparative Cytogenetics (International Journal of Plant & Animal Cytogenetics, Karyosystematics and Molecular Systematics)

(2007-present) Editorial Bord of Caucasus Biodiversity (International Jjournal of Biodiversity and Ecology of Caucasian Region)

(1991-present) Editorial Bord of Atalanta (international entomological journal, Germany)


Current collaboration:

Prof Paul Hebert, University of Guelph, Canada (DNA barcoding Palaearctic butterflies)

Blanca Huertas, Natural History Museum, London, UK (butterfly taxonomy)

Dr Nikolai Kandul, Duke University, USA (molecular phylogenetis)

Prof Valentina Kuznetsova, Zoological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia (cytogenetics and karyosystematis of insects)

Prof Gerardo Lamas, Museo de Historia Natural, Universidad Mayor de San Marcos, Peru (butterfly taxonomy and nomeclature)

Prof James Mallet, University College London, UK (Taxome Project)

Prof. Naomi Pierce, Harvard University, USA (evolutionary biology)

Dr. Andrei Sourakov, Florida University, USA (DNA barcoding West Asian butterflies)

Prof Anatoliy Stekolnikov, St. Petersburg State University, Russia (morphology and systematics of Lepidoptera)

Dr Roger Vila, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain (Phylogeny and systematics of the Iberian Rhopalocera, supported by Spanish Science and Education Ministry)


Teaching experience

 Current course

Species and Speciation (for MS students)

Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics (in preparation)

Our scientific results in teaching the evolution:





 Courses taught in past

Forest Entomology
Entomology (field practice)
Insect Taxonomy and Systematics (Lepidoptera)
Methods of Insect Cytogenetics


Selected publications

Monographs and book chapters:

Lukhtanov, V.A., Lukhtanov, A.G. 1994. The Butterflies of North-West Asia. Herbipoliana. 1994. 440 pp., 56 colour plates.

Lukhtanov, V. A., Eitschberger, U. 2000. Illustrated Catalogue of the genera Oeneis and Davidina (Nymphalidae, Satyrinae, Oeneini). Butterflies of the World . Part 11. Goecke & Evers Publisher, Keltern, Germany.

Lukhtanov, V.A., Eitschberger, U. 2001. Catalogue of the genera Oeneis and Davidina (Nymphalidae, Satyrinae, Oeneini). Butterflies of the World. Supplement 4.

Dubatolov, V.V., Streltzov, A.N., Sergeev, M.G., Lukhtanov, V.A. 2005. Satyridae. In: Key to the insects of Russian Far East. Vol. V. Trichoptera and Lepidoptera. Pt. 5.  Vladivostok: Dal'nauka: 234-286 (in Russian).


Selected articles

Lukhtanov V.A., Sourakov A., Zakharov E.V., Hebert P. D. N. 2009. DNA barcoding Central Asian butterflies: Increasing geographical dimension does not significantly reduce the success of species identification. Molecular Ecology Resources.

Lukhtanov V. A., Shapoval N. A. 2008. Detection of cryptic species in sympatry using population analysis of unlinked genetic markers: a study of the Agrodiaetus kendevani species complex (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Doklady Biological Sciences 423: 432436.

Lukhtanov V.A., Shapoval N.A., Dantchenko A.V. 2008. Agrodiaetus shahkuhensis sp. n. (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae), a cryptic species from Iran discovered by using molecular and chromosomal markers. Comparative Cytogenetics 2(2):99-114. PDF

Kandul, N.P., Lukhtanov, V.A., Pierce, N.E. 2007. Karyotypic diversity and speciation in Agrodiaetus butterflies. Evolution 61(3):546-559. PDF

Lukhtanov, V.A., Budashkin, J.I. 2007. The origin and taxonomic position of the Crimean endemic Agrodiaetus pljushtchi (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) based on the data on karyology, ecology, and molecular phylogenetics. Zool. Zh. 86(7): 839-845.

Lukhtanov, V.A., Vishnevskaya, M.S., Volynkin, A.V., Yakovlev, R.V. 2007. Butterflies (Lepidoptera, Rhopalocera) of West Altai. Entomologicheskoe Obozrenie 86(2):347-369.

Lukhtanov, V.A., Vila, R. & Kandul, N.P. 2006. Rearrangement of the Agrodiaetus dolus species group (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) using a new cytological approach and molecular data. Insect Systematics and Evolution 37 (3): 325-334. PDF.

Lukhtanov, V.A., Kandul, N.P., Plotkin, J.B., Dantchenko, A.V, Haig, D., & Pierce, N.E. 2005. Reinforcement of pre-zygotic isolation and karyotype evolution in Agrodiaetus butterflies. Nature 436: 385-389. PDF.

Kandul, N.P., V.A. Lukhtanov, A.V. Dantchenko, et al. 2004. Phylogeny of Agrodiaetus Hubner 1822 (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) inferred from mtDNA sequences of COI and COII, and nuclear sequences of EF1-a: karyotype diversification and species radiation. Systematic Biology 53: 278298. PDF.

Lukhtanov, V.A., Wiemers, M., Meusemann, K. 2003. Description of a new species of the "brown" Agrodiaetus complex from South-East Turkey (Lycaenidae). Nota lepidopterologica 26:65-71.

Lukhtanov, V.A. & A.V. Dantchenko. 2002. Principles of highly ordered metaphase I bivalent arrangement in spermatocytes of Agrodiaetus (Lepidoptera). Chromosome Research 10: 5-20. PDF.

Lukhtanov V.A., Dantchenko A.V, 2002. Descriptions of new taxa of the genus Agrodiaetus Hübner, [1822]  based on karyotype investigation (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae). Atalanta 33(1/2): 81-107, 224-225, colour plate I.

Lukhtanov, V. A. 2000. Sex chromatin and sex chromosome systems in nonditrysian Lepidoptera (Insecta). J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Research 38: 73-79. PDF.

Stekolnikov, A.A., Ivanov,V.D., Kuznetzov, V.I. & Lukhtanov, V.A. 2000. Evolution of chromosomes, wing articulation, male genitalia and phylogeny of butterflies (Lepidoptera: Hesperioidea, Papilionoidea). Entomol. Obozr. 79(1):123-149.

Lukhtanov, V.A. & Puplesiene, J.. 1999. Polyploidy in bisexual Lepidoptera species (Insecta: Lepidoptera): old hypotheses and new data. Bonner Zoologische Beitraege 48(3-4): 313-328.

Lukhtanov, V. A., Kandul, N. P., De Prins, W. O., van der Poorten, D. 1998. Karyology of species of  Polyommatus (Agrodiaetus) from Turkey: new data and their taxonomic consequences (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). Holarctic Lepidoptera 5(1):1-8.

Lukhtanov, V.A. & Puplesiene, J.. 1996. Karyotype peculiarities and main features of karyotype evolution in lepidopterans of the Nepticuloid, Tischerioid, Gelechioid and Tineoid complexes (Lepidoptera: Nepticuloidea, Tischerioidea, Gelechioidea s.l., Psychoidea-Gracillarioidea). Entomol. obozr. 75: 310-323.

Lukhtanov, V.A. 1991. Karyotype evolution and systematics of higher taxa of Pieridae (Lepidoptera) of the world.  Entomol. obozr. 70: 619-641.

Lukhtanov, V. A. 1989. Karyotypes of some blue butterflies of the Agrodiaetus species groups (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae). Ann. Ent. Fennici 55:137-144.

Lukhtanov, V.A., Kuznetsova, V.G. 1989. The analysis of the karyotype variability in the butterflies of the Melitaea didyma group along with evidence of the species distinctness of M. latonigena (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae). Zool. Zh. 68(12):38-46

Lukhtanov, V.A. 1983-1889. Revision of the Palearctic species of the genus Oeneis Hübner (Lepidoptera, Satyridae). Entomol. obozr., 62: 763-772 (1983), 63: 776-789 (1984), 66: 142-158 (1987), Vestnik Zoologii (1989) 2: 29-36; (1989) 4: 28-34.


More Complete list of scientific publications

Current talks given at international conferences (2006-2008)

Chromosomes and phylogeny reconstruction. Conference in memory of G.A.Lewitsky. St. Petersburg. November 26-27 2008 (together with V.G. Kuznetsova).

Advantages and limitations of molecular phylogenetics and more traditional approaches to phylogeny reconstruction. International conference Problems of current bilogy, nanotechnology and medicine. Rostov-na-Donu, Russia, 8-10 October 2008 (together with V.G. Kuznetsova).

Testing speciation models by using molecular phylogenetic and comparative approaches. International Conference Computational phylogenetics and molecular systematics «CPMS 2007», Moscow, November 16-19, 2007.

Molecular and cytogenetic approaches to systematics of insects. 13th  Congress of Russian Entomological Society. Krasnodar (Russia), 10-15 September 2007 (together with V.G. Kuznetsova)

Biogeography and biodiversity of European Agrodiaetus blues (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae). 15th European Congress of Lepidopterology. Erkner / Berlin (Germany), 8 12 September 2007.

Reinforcement of pre-zygotic isolation and karyotype evolution in Agrodiaetus butterflies. 5th International Conference on the Biology of Butterflies. Villa Mondragone, 2-7 July 2007. Tor Vergata University, Roma, Italy. P. 70. (together with Kandul N.P., Pierce N.E., Shapoval N.A)

Agrodiaetus damocles, a new butterfly species (Insecta, Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) discovered in European Russia by using karyotype analysis. August 28-30, 2006. Forth International conference Karyosystematics of invertebrate animals, St. Petersburg, Russia (together with A.Dantchenko)

Sibling species of the Agrodiaetus cyaneus complex (Insecta, Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) detected by using mitochondrial and chromosomal markers. August 28-30, 2006. Forth International conference Karyosystematics of invertebrate animals, St. Petersburg, Russia (together with N.Shapoval & A.Dantchenko)

Analysis of cryptic species diversity using molecular and chromosomal markers. August 28-30, 2006. Forth International conference Karyosystematics of invertebrate animals, St. Petersburg, Russia

Do chromosomal rearrangements promote speciation in Agrodiaetus butterflies? June 23-27, 2006. New York. Annual Meeting of American Society of Naturalists, Society for the Study of Evolution and Society of Systematic Biologists (together with Kandul N.P. & Pierce N.E.)

Butterfly taxonomy: problems and solutions. 26 - 29 April 2006 Stockholm, Sweden. European Science Foundation EXPLORATORY WORKSHOP Lepidoptera Evolution, Taxonomy and Systematics