Evoluzione Molecolare e Filogenesi

Uso della genetica molecolare nella conservazione di specie e popolazioni naturali; studio delle variazioni nel tempo e nello spazio del patrimonio genetico delle popolazioni umane attuali; ricostruzioni filogenetiche in diverse specie animali; filogenesi di porzioni del genoma umano a trasmissione uni- a bi-parentale; applicazione della tecnologia del  DNA Barcode per la caratterizzazione di specie animali e vegetali

Docenti di riferimento:  Giuliana Allegrucci, Gabriele Gentile, Donatella Cesaroni, Marco MattocciaValerio SbordoniAndrea Novelletto, Federica BerrilliOlga RickardsCristina Martinez-Labarga, Antonella Canini

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Molecular Evolution and Phylogeny

People: Giuliana Allegrucci, Gabriele Gentile, Donatella Cesaroni, Marco MattocciaAndrea NovellettoFederica BerrilliOlga RickardsCristina Martinez-Labarga, Antonella Canini, Paolo Gratton

  • Use of molecular genetics in the species and natural populations conservation. Appropriate analytical tools (phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses) are used a) to resolve taxonomic conflicts; b) to identify units of evolution significant for the conservation (ESU); c) to estimate parameters of population; d) to evaluate the degree of genetic variability with respect to the maintenance of the evolutionary potential in endangered species. Use of DNA Barcode as taxonomic character in Amphibians and Reptiles and in different taxa of Insects. Phylogenetic methods for estimation of genetic divergence and evolutionary history at different time scales in animal taxa. Population genetics and gene flow patterns in populations of Arthropods, Reptiles and Mammals (Giuliana Allegrucci, Gabriele Gentile, Donatella Cesaroni, Marco Mattoccia, Andrea Novelletto, Federica Berrilli).
  • Speciation and genomics-based species delimitation in alpine butterflies and other taxa (Paolo Gratton)
  • Use of molecular clocks to reconstruct the biogeographic history in several animal taxa.  (Giuliana Allegrucci, Donatella Cesaroni
  • Phylogenesis of mitochondrial DNA in Capra hircus. Isolate demography. Modes of selection operated by breeders (Andrea Novelletto).
  • Reconstruction of the genetic history of Homo sapiens and its migration routes out of the African cradle towards the other continents, through the analysis of the variation in time and space of the genetic pool of extant human populations from all over the world. Among the various molecules which could be used in unravelling human evolutionary history, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has proved to be useful in studying recent human evolution and in analyzing genetic affinities of populations from different geographical regions so as to delineate major expansions, dispersals and migrations of our species. In particular, the study of the geographic distribution and diversity of genetic variation has been used to reconstruct human expansion into the Mediterranean Basin, Africa and the Americas (Olga Rickards, Cristina Martinez-Labarga).
  • Phylogeny of uni- and bi-parentally inherited portions of the human genome. Signals of natural selection. Reconstruction of demography based on genetic data. Genetic dating. Reconstruction of historical processes and migration routes. Genetic signatures of different subsistence modes (Andrea Novelletto).
  • Application of DNA barcode technology for the characterization of plant species and for the taxonomic identification of ancient plants (Antonella Canini).


People: Michele Scardi, Clara Boglione, Eleonora CiccottiTommaso Russo, Federica Berrilli 

  • Study of river fish populations and assemblages aimed at developing biological method useful to assess ecological status of running water ecosystems. Studies on relationship between fish assemblages and abiotic variables in inland waters, also aimed at identifying action plans for fish biodiversity conservation. (Eleonora Ciccotti)
  • Assessment of the ecological status of aquatic ecosystems based on community structure (e.g. according to the Directive 2000/60/EC) and related methods, with special reference  to expert systems and Artificial Intelligence techniques. (Michele Scardi, Clara BoglioneEleonora Ciccotti, Tommaso Russo)
  • Analysis of the relationship existing among physical, chemical and biotic variables in running waters, with particular attention paid to the biological evaluation of environment quality, to nutrient retention and variations due to antropic alterations.  (Clara Boglione, Eleonora Ciccotti)
  • Setting up of methodologies able to identify the effects of environmental stress on exposed organisms. (Clara Boglione)
  • Study of bone diseases in vertebrates. Anatomy, morphology, histology and epigenetic of skeletal tissues of vertebrates, using fish as a model for studies aimed at extending knowledge about bone diseases. Using skeletal abnormalities in fish as a indicator of the health status of a water body or breeding conditions (density, diet, stress, … ..) in aquaculture. Application of multivariate analysis techniques and artificial intelligence for the integrated analysis of the environmental effects on skeletal remodeling and modeling processes. (Clara Boglione, Tommaso Russo)
  • Macrozoobenthic communities and seagrass meadows analysis in coastal marine ecosystems. Assessment and prediction of phytoplankton primary production based on modeling, both at local and global scale in aquatic (oceanic, transitional and freshwater) ecosystems. Assessment of primary productivity of Posidonia oceanica through lepidocronological analyses and mathematical modeling. Statistical analysis of ecological data and application of Machine Learning techniques to Ecology. (Michele Scardi)
  • Analysis of the composition and structure of parasite communities in different hosts. Study of risk factors associated with the spread of parasites, molecular epidemiology of parasitic diseases. (Federica Berrilli)


Studi dei popolamenti ittici per lo sviluppo di metodi biologici di valutazione dello stato ecologico degli ambienti lotici, lentici e di transizione; valutazione dello stato ecologico degli ecosistemi acquatici in base alla struttura delle comunità; analisi delle relazioni fra variabili fisico-chimiche e biotiche in ambienti di acque correnti; analisi delle comunità macrozoobentoniche e delle praterie di fanerogame in ambienti marini costieri; studio delle comunità parassitarie in diversi ospiti; aspetti metodologici della didattica dell’ecologia e dell’educazione ambientale

Docenti di riferimento: Stefano Cataudella, Michele Scardi, Clara Boglione, Eleonora CiccottiTommaso Russo, Federica Berrilli, David Di Cave

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Biodiversity Informatics and Taxonomy

People: Donatella CesaroniGiuliana AllegrucciAntonella Canini, Alessandro TravagliniRoberta Congestri, Paolo Gratton

  • Research directed towards the creation and interoperability of networks linking computerized databases on biodiversity at different geographical scale: regional (Regional Biodiversity Observatory of Latium), national (national network) and international (Life Watch). Cartographic mapping (Web GIS) and elaboration of predictive models of spatial and temporal distribution of animal species. (Donatella Cesaroni)
  • Databanks-based phylogeography (Paolo Gratton)
  • Taxonomy and phylogeny in several animal taxa. (Giuliana Allegrucci, Donatella Cesaroni)
  • Conservation of Nature: study of flora and vegetation in M. Simbruini Regional Natural Park in Latium  the and in the SCI Mountains Ruffi and M. Guadagnolo. Study of phenology of Quercus and Cupressus in Rome. Study of urban green. (Alessandro Travaglini)
  • Research directed towards the realization of databases for the use of a botanical molecular taxonomy. Constitution of a bank for the germplasm conservation in the Botanical Garden, using systems of seed bank and in vitro culture. (Antonella Canini)
  • Microalgal diversity along Latium coasts, long-term dataset implementation; Planktic and benthic microalgal diversity of Latium coasts, collaboration with Regional Environmental Protection Agency in the frame of Marine Strategy Programme, long-term dataset implementation. (Roberta Congestri)


Biodiversità, Bioinformatica, Tassonomia

Ricerche per la realizzazione di network di banche dati informatizzate sulla biodiversità a diversa scala geografica; applicazioni cartografiche (web GIS); studio del verde urbano; costituzione di una Banca per la conservazione del Germoplasma nell’ambito dell’Orto Botanico.

Docenti di riferimento:  Donatella CesaroniValerio SbordoniGiuliana AllegrucciAntonella Canini, Alessandro TravagliniRoberta Congestri

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Biotechnologies for the Environment

People: Roberta Congestri, Laura Bruno, Cinzia Forni, Luciana Migliore, Marco Maria D’Andrea, Antonella Canini, Bianca Gustavino

  • Development of monitoring methods for microalgal and cyanobacterial growth in aquatic ecosystems; selected algal biomass production for biotechnological application in the fields of environment, bioenergy and nanotechnology; integration of optimized biomass production into bioremediation process of wastewaters. Development of monitoring methods for microalgal and cyanobacterial growth in aquatic biofilms and coastal phytoplankton, especially toxic and bloom forming species; image analysis method for automatic cyanobacterial recognition, early warning for phycotoxin release in the environment, Ostreopsis spp. bloom monitoring and biofouling control in industrial systems. (Roberta Congestri)
  • Selected algal biomass production for biotechnological application in the fields of environment, bioenergy and nanotechnology; integration of optimized biomass production, pilotscale photobioreactors, into bioremediation process of wastewaters. Phosphorus, nitrogen and heavy metal abatement in effluent waters. Characterization of fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) produced by selected microalgae and cyanobacteria. (Laura Bruno, Roberta Congestri)
  • Phytoremediation with higher plants. Detection of bioaccumulation of pollutants, tolerance and stress responses by different plant species. Use of aquatic macrophytes in wastewater treatment plant. Utilization of different strategies  for the recovery of salt affected soils. Screening in vitro and in vivo of salt tolerant species, determination of the effects of salt stress on plant metabolism. Preservation of plant gene pools, application of different methodologies to the preservation of biodiversity of crops and trees. In vitro cultures methods , i.e. slow growth and cryopreservation, and biochemical and physiological studies of the mechanisms related to stress response and cryoprotection. Use of natural compounds as elicitors of acquired systemic resistance in crop plants. (Cinzia Forni)
  • Development of methods for the identification of the effects of environmental stress in seagrasses: the choice and combination of descriptors (easily measurable, sensitive and responsive to environmental changes) requires the knowledge of organism ecophysiology. In the case of seagrasses, to assess their conservation state, descriptors have been identified based on biochemical approaches (concentration of total phenols, photosynthetic pigments); they can provide timely and reliable information on the ecophysiological state of plants. The metagenomic study of the microbial communities associated with leaves and rhizomes-roots, which is the other partner of the plants in the so-called ‘seagrass holobiont’, has been now added to these descriptors. This integrated approach allows to acquire information on the functional relations between microbial communities and improve the understanding of environmental processes. (Luciana Migliore, Marco Maria D’Andrea)
  • Characterization of environmental bacterial species, analysis of their potential metabolic activities in environmental biotechnologies and zootechnics; cloning of the related genic determinants. (Luciana Migliore, Marco Maria D’Andrea)
  • Genotoxic and mutagenic potential monitoring of environmental contamination by physical and chemical pollutants in air, water, soil / sediment through the use of standard test systems (plants, fish, mammalian and human cells), as well as in specimens from natural populations exposed in situ or ex situ. Mechanism of DNA damage induction of the detected mutagenic pollutants. Validation studies for the development of novel bio-indicator organisms of mutagenic / genotoxic effects (both in animal and plant systems) to be employed in bio-monitoring of the different environmental compartments. (Bianca Gustavino)

Biotecnologie per l’Ambiente

Sviluppo di metodi di monitoraggio per specie algali; selezione di cianobatteri e microalghe per la produzione di biodiesel; sistemi di biorimedio (fitorisanamento) con piante vascolari; messa a punto di un sistema integrato per il monitoraggio delle fanerogame marine; caratterizzazione di specie batteriche ambientali; utilizzo di sistemi biotecnologici (es. culture in vitro) per la cogenerazione a biomassa come gassificatori a pirolisi; utilizzo di test di mutagenesi per la valutazione del potenziale mutageno e genotossico di contaminanti ambientali.

Docenti di riferimento: Roberta Congestri, Laura Bruno, Cinzia Forni, Luciana Migliore, Maria Cristina Thaller, Antonella Canini, Bianca Gustavino                         Read more

Forensic Anthropology

People: Olga Rickards, Cristina Martinez-Labarga

  • Forensic Anthropology is a new field of study that deals with the analysis of human skeletal remains in order to extract much information as possible about persons represented by bones (attribution of sex, estimation of age at death, calculation of stature, pathological conditions, occupational stress markers, facial reproduction) and about the circumstances surrounding their death. Since forensic anthropology employs the principles of anthropology to analyze legal problems and/or archaeological context, the researchers involved in this field of study could collaborate with Legal medicine institutes, Soprintendenze, Museums and all the institutions for the human remains safeguard (Olga Rickards, Cristina Martinez-Labarga)