The 6thInternational Symposium «Biogenic-Abiogenic Interactions in Natural and Anthropogenic systems» was dedicated to the 150thanniversary of the St Petersburg Society of Naturalists. It brought leading experts from Russia, India, Germany, Egypt and Belarus to St Petersburg University.
Interdisciplinarity is a trademark of a scientific event. «Biologists, geochemists, crystallographers, mineralogists, soil scientists and other specialists come to the symposium to discuss the widest range of issues: from the methods of studying and geochemistry of bioinert substance to medical geology and the processes of materials destruction under the influence of living organisms», Dmitry Vlasov, Professor of St Petersburg University and President of St Petersburg Society of Naturalists noted at the opening.
«This year the symposium is special, because it takes place in the year of the 150th anniversary of St Petersburg Society of Naturalists- one of the oldest scientific societies in our country. The history of the creation of St Petersburg Society of Naturalists and its activity is closely related to St Petersburg University,» said Dmitry Vlasov.
The plenary session started with a report by Dmitry Vlasov on the role of St Petersburg Society of Naturalists in the establishment of the major schools of natural sciences in the city. In the second half of the 19thcentury, the need to create scientific societies, as the scientist reported, was understood not only by Russian scientists who sought to expand their contacts with foreign colleagues, but also by the government which wanted to make science more open.
«Then, at the suggestion of the participants of the First Congress of Naturalists and Doctors of Russia, which was held at St Petersburg University, it was decided to create public scientific organisations. St Petersburg Society of Naturalists was one of the first organisations to be opened, the creation of which is closely connected with the name of the outstanding scientist, the Rector of St Petersburg University Karl F. Kessler. Thanks to his active work and numerous initiatives, the society managed to establish a system of interaction with the government», added Dmitry Vlasov.
The International Symposium «Biogenic-Abiogenic Interactions in Natural and Anthropogenic systems» has become one of the results of the joint activities of the University and society. This scientific event brings together scientists from various fields and promotes interdisciplinary research within St Petersburg University itself. Thus, the results of the joint work of biologists and crystallographers of the University at the VI International Symposium were presented by Olga Frank-Kamenetskaya, Professor of St Petersburg University.
For many years, a team of scientists has been studying the processes of modern mineral formation with the participation of living organisms. «The main factor in these processes is the metabolism of lichens, microscopic fungi and bacteria. Acids secreted by microorganisms are involved in the dissolution of the stone substrate. In our study, the focus is on oxalates and carbonates. All other natural compounds that are obtained with the participation of microorganisms, as a rule, are short-lived and can completely dissolve under the action of the secreted acids,» said Olga Frank-Kamenetskaya. Such studies of St Petersburg University scientists are necessary primarily for the development of biotechnology, especially in the field of preservation of cultural monuments.
A special guest of the symposium, Professor of Anna University (Chennai, India) Narayana Kalkura gave an open lecture on the topic «From biomineralisation to biomaterials science». In addition to the crystallisation of biological molecules (including proteins) and the mechanisms of formation of deposits in living organisms (for example, kidney stones), the scientific interests of the Indian scientist include the synthesis of analogs of biominerals and the creation of composite biomaterials.
According to the results of the symposium, it is planned to publish a collective monograph in English Processes and Phenomena on the Boundary between Biogenic Abiogenic Nature published by Springer. Articles will be accepted for publication based on the papers presented at the symposium, including literature surveys and original research manuscripts.