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Evolutionary and Functional Biology Unit


The Evolutionary and Functional Bioology Unit hosts researchers and scientific laboratories focused on the following research fields:

  • Botany and Plant Physiology
  • Animal and Human Physiology
  • Zoology and Ethology


The professors of the Unit are members of the following PhD Courses:


Apart from Faculty Members, the Unit is composed by 8 Research Assistants


The Unit is organized in the following research groups:

Animal Genomics Labs 

Coordinator: Pr. Francesco Nonnis Marzano

The main research topics concern the genetic characterization of vertebrate taxa for the resolution of issues in the fields of systematics, phylogeny, population genetics, and genetics of conservation of endangered species. Methodological approaches are based on genetic and genomic techniques based on PCR amplification, capillary electrophoresis and next generation sequencing. Additional research topics are related to the molecular characterization of pediatric and behavioral syndromes, with particular attention to the involvement of genes regulating the metabolism of neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin).

Geobotany and Plant Ecology 

Coordinator: Pr. Marcello Tomaselli

We study the distribution and ecology of species and plant communities; the interpretation of the ecological meaning that lies in the deterministic assembly of plant species provides researchers with irreplaceable tools for landscape interpretation and natural phenomena, extremely useful in the management of protected areas or for the naturalistic recovery of degraded areas. Understanding the balance of natural ecosystems is the basic competence for carrying out experiments and monitoring to investigate the effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems. The long international experience has allowed us to enter the main monitoring network of the effects of climate change on high mountain biodiversity (GLORIA) and in the main experimental climate change study network within Arctic and alpine ecosystems (ITEX).

Plant Developmental Biology Lab 

Coordinators: Pr. Ada Ricci, Pr. Enrico Rolli, Pr. Anna Torelli 

Research is carried out on morphogenesis and somatic embryogenesis in in vitro culture, on photoreceptors from plant pathogen bacteria, on phytochemical interesting compounds, on plant-fungal toxins relationships in in vitro culture; research is made on algae to produce secondary metabolites, on markers for the identification of plant contaminants in commercial products, on plant responses to heavy metals and to other abiotic or biotic stress factors, on the application of in vitro culture to species of officinal or pharmaceutical-herborist interest.  

Insect Ethology, Ecology & Sociobiology Lab (Myrmecology Lab) 

Coordinators: Pr. Alessandra Mori and Pr. Donato A. Grasso

This research group develops ethological, ecological and sociobiological researches on insects, with a special focus on ants, their interactions with other organisms (plants, other insects and microorganisms), their use as biological indicators and their role in integrated pest management. Urban ecology is another topic tackled with different methodologies including citizen science projects. 

The Cardiac Pathophysiology Laboratory 

Coordinators: Pr. Donatella Stilli and Pr. Massimiliano Zaniboni

The Laboratory is equipped with advanced instrumentation for measuring the electrophysiological and contractile properties of the normal and pathological heart, from the cell to the organ level. The research activity mainly concerns the definition of the molecular mechanisms underlying heart dysfunction in degenerative cardiomyopathies of different origin, as well as the cardioprotective effects of specific pharmacological approaches.

Stress physiology Lab 

Coordinator: Pr. Andrea Sgoifo

In animal models (rodents): studies on the biological substrates of depression-cardiovascular disease co-occurrence, two pathologies that – separately – are the most disabling ones in humans (according to the last report of WHO). The final goal is to implement new molecules that allow to successfully treat this comorbidity. In humans: use of a set of parameters (autonomic, neuroendocrine, behavioral and psychometric) that allows to evaluate the effectiveness of non-pharmacological stress relief interventions.  

Ethology and Psychobiology 

Coordinator: Pr. Stefano Parmigiani

The group is characterized by the following research lines: Sex differences in  neuroendocrine and  emotional substrates of social behavior of different genetic lines of mice as animal models for the study of psychobiological disorders caused by pre and postnatal exposure to  social stress and Endocrine Disrupting environmental contaminants. Behavioral analysis of  the domestic dog cognitive social skills,  differences in temperament traits among breeds, and on behavioral and physiological correlates of emotions and its relationship with humans, .: Study of underwater ambient noise and sound communication in fishes.  Evolution of auditory sensitivity. Human evolutionary psychobiology.

Pubblicato Tuesday, 12 March, 2019 - 12:59 | ultima modifica Monday, 18 March, 2019 - 13:33