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).