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:
- Evolutionay Biology and Ecology (Biologia Evoluzionistica ed Ecologia)
- Molecolar Medicine (Medicina Molecolare)
- Neurosciences (Neuroscienze)
Apart from Faculty Members, the Unit is composed by 8 Research Assistants
The Unit is organized in the following research groups:
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.