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At the general meeting of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences held on June 30, 2014, a decision was made to establish the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnologies of ANAS on the basis of the Department of Fundamental Problems of Biological Productivity of the Institute of Botany of ANAS. On March 1, 2016, the Institute was registered in the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan and from July 1, 2016, began independent activity within the Division of Biological and Medical Sciences of ANAS.

The Department of Fundamental Problems of Biological Productivity was founded in 1971 by great scientist, public and political figure, academician Jalal Aliyev and started operating as a group. In 1974 this group became the Laboratory of Molecular Bases of Bioenergetics under the sector of Physicochemical Biology. In 1983 the Laboratory of Molecular-Genetic Bases of Production Processes was created on its base, which included creative groups of Biochemistry of Photosynthesis, Genetic Engineering, Molecular Organization of Photosynthetic Apparatus, Tissue Culture, Photochemistry of Chloroplasts, and Photobiotechnology.

At the end of 1988, Biochemistry of Photosynthesis, Genetic Engineering, Molecular Organization of Photosynthetic Apparatus, Tissue Culture and Artificial Climate groups became independent laboratories. On the base of these laboratories, including the creative groups of Photochemistry of Chloroplasts and Photobiotechnology, the Department of Molecular-Genetic Bases of Production Processes was created at the Institute of Botany. In 1989, a Bioinformatics laboratory was established in the department.

Considering the success gained in the study of photosynthetic membranes and future perspectives, a new laboratory - Structure and Function of Photosynthetic Membranes was established within the Department in 2005.

To intensify and extend research conducted at the Department of Molecular-Genetic Bases of Production Processes of the Institute of Botany, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) and to harmonize investigations with the modern needs of the science, the Department was renamed as Fundamental Problems of Biological Productivity in 2010. In line with the new name of the department, some of its laboratories were also renamed: Biochemistry of Photosynthesis - Enzymology of Photosynthetic Carbon Assimilation, Genetic Engineering - Structure and Expression of Genome, Molecular Organization of the Photosynthetic Apparatus - Cell Membrane Systems, Tissue Culture - Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Artificial Climate - Photochemistry of Chloroplasts and scientific directions of these laboratories were identified. At the same time, three new laboratories were established: Bioadaptation, Photobioenergetics and Cell Regulation Systems.

One of the leading directions of modern biology is computational biology. Today computational biology is very important for the development of medicine, agriculture and the pharmaceutical industry. The field of biotechnology is also considered one of the most promising areas of the economy. Methods of genetic therapy, creation and use of transgenic organisms, and finding effective ways for decontamination and treatment of the polluted territories with industrial wastes and other contaminations caused by military operations, developing new medical preparations and diagnostic means, creation of ideal fuel to solve energetic problems and biological sensors allowing detection of industrial toxic wastes and eventually, creation of favorable conditions for human life in new planets-these all are the main targets of the modern biotechnology.

In 2012, to extend computational biology and molecular biotechnology in Azerbaijan and to reach the level of world standards in this area, two new laboratories were established at the Department of  Fundamental Problems of Biological Productivity: Computational Structural Biology and Molecular Biotechnology.

Thus, 11 laboratories of the Department of Fundamental Problems of Biological Productivity were studying physiological, biophysical, biochemical and molecular-genetic bases of biological productivity:

  • Laboratory of  Photochemistry of Chloroplasts
  • Laboratory of Photobioenergetics
  • Laboratory of Cell Membrane Systems
  • Laboratory of Enzymology of Photosynthetic Carbon Assimilation
  • Laboratory of Bioadaptation
  • Laboratory of Structure and Expression of Genome
  • Laboratory of Cell Regulatory Systems 
  • Laboratory of Bioengineering and Biotechnology
  • Laboratory of Molecular Biotechnology
  • Laboratory of Bioinformatics
  • Laboratory of Computational Structural Biology


The staff of the Department consisted of 45 employees, including 2 academicians, 4 corresponding members of ANAS, 3 doctors of sciences, 2 professors and 16 PhDs.

In the course of the functioning period of the department, the main direction of the study has been the theoretical basis of the photosynthetic productivity of agricultural crops. The processes of photosynthesis and photorespiration have been studied comprehensively. These studies have covered physiological, biophysical, biochemical and molecular-genetic bases of plant vital activities and their responses to abiotic and biotic stress factors as well as processes of productivity in all stages and forms, from the molecular level of structural-functional organization of plant life to the whole plant level including sowing.

As a result of the comprehensive studies focused on the photosynthetic process and productivity in different wheat genotypes under field conditions, traits and indicators were identified, which performance and value correlate more closely with productivity. Effects of adverse environmental factors, high temperature, drought and salinity on chloroplasts of different wheat genotypes and productivity have been studied contributing to discovering more tolerant forms from the new wheat varieties obtained under the leadership of academician Jalal Aliyev. By crossing perfectly chosen parental forms, phenomenal results have been obtained about the productivity and tolerance of wheat as well as about the possibility of changing intensity and the motion of the first assimilates to the necessary direction.

Contrary to earlier conceptions about the wastefulness of photorespiration and the necessity of its reduction, studies carried out for 40 years on various wheat and soybean genotypes with contrasting productivity under field conditions have confirmed that photorespiration is one of the evolutionarily developed vital metabolic processes in plants and the attempts to reduce this process by various ways with the purpose of increasing the crop productivity are groundless. The paper reflecting this conception (Aliyev J.A. Photosynthesis, photorespiration and productivity of wheat and soybean genotypes.  Physiol Plantarum, 2012, Vol. 145, No 3, p. 369-383) ranks first among 20 top papers chosen from published works about photosynthesis and photorespiration in 2012-2013.

Nucleotide and amino acid sequences of the main enzymes of photosynthesis and photorespiration-phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase and phosphoglycolate phosphatase were determined.

Molecular structures of chloroplast photochemical systems were studied and a topographic model for the pigment-protein complex of thylakoid membranes was presented. It was established that component b559 of Photosystem II joining with reactions of the S cycle, which implements oxidation of water molecule and evolution of the molecular oxygen, provides electrons for the S2 and S3 steps.

Molecular –genetic mechanisms of the synthesis, assembly and formation processes of structural-functional components in photosynthetic membranes of higher plants were comprehensively studied.

The structural and functional organization of higher plants was thoroughly studied. For the first time, the enzyme carbonic anhydrase from chick-pea (Cicer arietinum) leaves was crystallized and a molecular model for its quaternary structure was proposed.

The genomic library of chloroplast DNA of chick-pea plants was created, vector systems for transferring alien genes to plants were constructed and transgenic plants were obtained.

Molecular and biochemical mechanisms of transferring extracellular signals into cells of eukaryotic organisms were investigated.

The possible role of the photosynthetic alterations in adapting plants to extremal conditions was determined. The bases of the plant tolerance to abiotic (drought, salinity, radiation) and biotic (virus, phytoplasma, rust) stresses were elucidated.

Mechanisms of the adaptation to water deficiency were determined through evaluation of free radical forming levels, antioxidant protection systems, structural and functional states of membranes and using molecular markers for assessment of the drought tolerance potential during all phases of ontogenesis in wheat plants cultivated under soil drought conditions. The article reflecting a part of these results (Huseynova I.M. Photosynthetic characteristics and enzymatic antioxidant capacity of leaves from wheat cultivars exposed to drought. BBA – Bioenergetics. 2012, V. 1817 p. 1516–1523) ranks the first among 20 top papers chosen from papers published on this subject.

As a result of the analysis of bread and durum wheat genotypes collected in the GeneBank in Azerbaijan using molecular markers, genes responsible for high tolerance to drought, salinity, brown and yellow rust diseases were detected and tolerant genotypes were assessed for selection.

Molecular diagnostics and identification of diseases caused by viruses and phytoplasmas containing RNA and DNA genomes in fruit trees and vegetable plants in Azerbaijan were carried out and biochemical, physiological and biophysical properties of plants infected with pathogens were studied. A new nanovirus Black medic leaf roll virus (BMLRV) was identified and its genome was completely sequenced for chick-pea plants grown in Ganja during the studies of nanovirus diseases in wild and cultivated leguminous plants, carried out in collaboration with several European countries. By the complete sequencing of four isolates of faba bean necrotic stunt (FBNSV) virus in samples of chick-pea, green pea, lentils and beans in Azerbaijan, it was proved that FBNSV nanovirus was sequenced for the first time in Europe.

The expression and dynamics of the protein alterations of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase three isoforms were studied in leaves and stems as well as in growing sprouts and maturing seeds of wild, monocot Brachypodium distachyon, which is considered as a model plant for temperate zones.

Hormonal regulation of callus and morphogenesis in various clover cultivars and clones was studied. Using ginseng (Panax ginseng) seeds, a cellular culture of high pharmacological activity was obtained. Strains with high rates of an increase in biomass and a high pharmacological activity were obtained. The in vitro method providing high capacity (10-25 bulbs per tube) for saffron (Crocus sativa L.) breeding, which had not been presented in the literature, was developed.

The database of plant promoters PlantProm was established. Softwares were developed for searching transcriptional regulatory elements in DNA sequences of human, animal and plant origin, RNA polymerase II promoters of plants and polyadenylation sites of mRNA sequences in humans, animals and higher plants. In seven higher plants, including rice, maize and wine grape some functional and evolutionary properties of DNA (gene) exchange among nucleus, plastid and mitochondrial genomes in a single cell were found. For the first time, facts that contributed to the transfer of genes from plastids and mitochondria to the nucleus were determined.

 The comprehensive research on photosynthesis, photorespiration and productivity processes, investigations of indicators and signs of photosynthetic activity, agronomic, morphophysiological, biochemical, biophysical and molecular properties of wheat genotypes, conducted for a long period of time resulted in the development of principles and molecular-genetic bases of wheat high productivity, in the creation of a rich GeneBank of wheat consisting of thousands of genotypes and a large number of durum (Triticum durum Desf.) and bread (Triticum aestivum L.) wheat varieties with high grain quality and yield, which cover the most part of the Azerbaijan wheat sowing area.

Results of the research carried out by the staff of the Department were presented at numerous international congresses, conferences and symposiums (Turkey, Switzerland, France, United Kingdom, Hungary, Russia, Japan, USA, etc.), and published in journals with high impact factors. The obtained results were repeatedly included in the list of the most important results in the annual reports of ANAS.

For the great successes achieved in the field of fundamental and agrarian sciences, academician Jalal Aliyev was elected a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (1995), the Ukrainian Academy of Agrarian Sciences (1996) and the Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Belarus (1996).

The creation and development of new directions of biological science, the obtaining significant results, and the huge successes in training scientific staff were highly appreciated at the international level and Jalal Aliyev was elected an honorary member of the editorial board of the journals "Bioinformatics and Comparative Genomics" and "Plant Biochemistry and Physiology", which are published in the USA, and was included in the editorial board of the journals "Computational Biology and Bioinformatics" (Australia) and "The Infectious and Non-Infectious Diseases" (USA).

In connection with the development of investigations in the field of physicochemical biology, in particular, biochemistry and biophysics, starting from the early 1970s of the last century Jalal Aliyev acted as the initiator and founder of the development of new directions of research, namely molecular and cellular biology, molecular genetics and biotechnology, mathematical biology, computational biology and bioinformatics in Azerbaijan. The scientific laboratories with modern high-precision devices and the newest equipment were established. J.Aliyev trained young scientists who had graduated from universities with different specialties, in particular, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and agrochemistry. They were trained at the most advanced scientific centers and universities of the former Soviet Union, acquired extensive experience in these fields and became highly qualified specialists. Thanks to the joint efforts of these trained specialists, for the first time, the application of mathematical methods and information technology in our republic became possible.

Scientific laboratories equipped with modern devices were established and a great scientific school was created. Today, the followers of the JALAL ALIYEV’s SCHOOL are successfully working in the leading scientific centers and universities of Azerbaijan as well as in CIS, USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Israel, and European countries, and being widely recognized for their scientific results, they bring honor to the Azerbaijani people.

Taking into account the achievements of the Department of Fundamental Problems of Biological Productivity in the theoretical and applied sciences that were accepted by the world's leading scientists, the relevance and perspective of the development of molecular biology and biotechnology science in Azerbaijan, the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnologies of ANAS was established.

In 2016, international laboratories of Proteomics and Bionanotechnology, in 2019, Molecular bioengineering, and in 2021, Population Genomics Laboratories were established by the decision No. 6/9 of the ANAS Presidium dated January 28, 2021. Currently, 14 laboratories, including 5 international laboratories, operate in the Institute. Research in these laboratories is carried out in close cooperation with international scientific centers and universities. The Institute has a Scientific Council consisting of 22 members, the Education Department, the International and Public Relations Department, and the Council of Young Scientists and Specialists. There is a rich scientific library in the institute.

Since 2019, the ED 1.25 Dissertation Council has been operating under the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnologies for the defense of dissertations to receive degrees of doctor of philosophy in biological sciences and doctor of biological sciences in the specialties of molecular biology, biochemistry, and plant physiology. The Dissertation Council consists of 18 members.

The institute has 131 employees, including 85 researchers, 12 doctors of science (1 academician, 4 corresponding members of ANAS, 1 corresponding member of the Russia AS, 7 professors), and 24 doctors of philosophy.

The Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan was named the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated July 28, 2022, “On some measures to improve management in the field of science and education in the Republic of Azerbaijan”. According to this Decree, a number of scientific institutions and organizations of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, including the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnologies, were subordinated to the Ministry of Science and Education.

 Currently, the institute operates within the State Agency for Science and Higher Education under the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan.