Point of contact at UniTrento
prof. Omar Rota-Stabelli (coordinator)
prof. Gianfranco Anfora
prof.ssa Ilaria Pertot
prof. Nicola Segata

Point of contact at FEM
dr. Claudio Donati
dr. Valerio Mazzoni 
dr. Annapaola Rizzoli 
dr. Matthias Scholz
dr. Claudio Varotto
dr. Cristiano Vernesi

Evolution allows us to understand how and when organisms became the way they look now: this helps us to better understand their biology and current and future distribution under the pressure of global changes. The unit is specialized in reconstructing phylogenies, studying species distribution,and dating species divergences using molecular clocks. Different types of markers are used from mitochondrial and plastid genomes to amplicons, from whole genomes to phylogenomic datasets (genes extracted from transcriptomes and genomes). Recent model organisms include insects of agricultural and med-vet interest (Drosophila, Aedes, Trissolcus, Halyomorpha, Lobesia, Cacopsylla), and other animals of evolutionary and conservation interest (sponges, crustaceans, tardigrades, reptiles, mammals). In collaboration with colleagues from FEM and other departments of UniTN, we also study the evolution of plants and fungi of agricultural interest (Arundo, Fagus, Castanea, Vitis, Ascomycota) as well as of bacteria and viruses of biomedical and environmental interest (Wolbachia, coronavirus, phages, arbovirus, human, animal, and soil microbiomes), whose divergences are estimated in some cases using reconstructed ancient genomes. We also study the evolution of gene families of applied importance such as sensory and visual receptors.

Typical activities includes:

  • Resolving difficult phylogenies using complex models of evolution;
  • Estimating divergence times using relaxed molecular clocks and fossil calibrations;
  • Reconstruction of genomes from ancient metagenomes and their use in calibrating molecular clocks;
  • De novo genome sequencing of arthropods and microbes of agricultural and med-vet importance;
  • Comparative genomics of gene families (opsins, chemoreceptors).