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Research area: The group carries out basic and applied research on a wide range of living organisms, from mushrooms to plants (algae, mosses, lichens, cormophytes), invertebrates (rotifers, crustaceans, insects, bryozoa) and vertebrates (cyclostomes, fishes, tetrapods), with laboratory and field studies, by means of morpho-functional, behavioural, genetic and ecological investigations. Particular attention is devoted to the analysis of biodiversity at the level of population, species, community and landscape and to organism/environment interactions, qualitatively and quantitatively evaluated at both local and global scale. Investigations aim to widen knowledge on plant and animal biology, to maintain environmental sustainability and to enhance biodiversity conservation.

Specific research objectives

- Taxonomy and systematics of fungi. Fungal biodiversity (alpha, beta and gamma) at the level of sporophores, mycelium and mycorrhizae; Integration of macro- and micro-morphological, chemical, ultrastructural, biomolecular, and cytological analysis; In vitro culture.

- Phytochemical characterization of plant and fungal extracts. Isolation and structural determination of natural molecules with biological (antimicrobial, antioxidant and allelopathic) activities; Control of plant- and human-pathogenic fungi by using plant/fungal extracts and natural allelochemicals.

- Plant Biodiversity. Micro- and macro-morphological, molecular, palynological traits; Flora inventories, distribution, cartography; Red-Listing; Population dynamics, decline, die-back; In situ/ex situ conservation; Crop Wild Relatives; Germplasm characterization.

- Plant nuclear cytology. Study of the plant genome organization in relation to organismal development and environmental adaptation. Molecular cytogenetics. Use of molecular markers for cultivar identification and food traceability.

- Vegetation. Phytosociological analysis, Vegetation dynamics, Ecological modelling of plant communities, habitats and landscape; Habitat Red-Listing; Environmental monitoring/reporting; Spatial analysis by GIS; Analysis of pressures and impacts and land use planning.

- Aerobiology and pollen-related environmental monitoring. Identification of plant species releasing allergenic pollen; Phenological phases, flowering periods; Airborne pollen monitoring; Pollen as bioindicator of air pollution and plant health and/or fitness; Allergological implications, pollinosis.

- Morphology and ultrastructure of marine and freshwater invertebrates. Fine organization of marine invertebrates (sponges, corals) and aquatic insects (Ephemeroptera, Odonata, Trichoptera) with particular attention to the relationship between organisms and environment.

- Biomarkers of contaminant-mediated oxidative stress in freshwater organisms. Integrated biochemical and molecular assessment of environmental stress and animal welfare.

- Freshwater Plankton. Biology and ecology of phyto and zooplankton. Eutrophication and toxic algae.

- Freshwater Bryozoa. Biology, ecology, morphological taxonomy and molecular characterization.

- Freshwater macroinvertebrates. Biology, ecology and conservation of invertebrates. Bioindicators and bioassessment.

- Tetrapods. Biology, ecology and conservation; Wildlife management; Forensic zoology.

- Ichthyofauna. Morphological, molecular, biological and ecological traits; Species Red-Listing; Population dynamics and management; Invasions and alien species; Organism and environment interactions; Environmental and Faunistic Spatial Analysis.

- Limnology. River management and Protection; Minimum and Ecological Flow.

- Ecological modelling. Ecosystem thermodynamics; ecological indicators and biodiversity measures; population dynamics and habitat selection in aquatic species.

- Impact of environmental-climate changes on lake hydrology, hydrochemistry and communities; paleolimnology; penetration of alien species in aquatic ecosystems.

- Insects sensory biology. Ultrastructural, electrophysiological and behavioural investigations are performed to clarify the functioning of insect sensilla and their role in perceiving environmental cues, with theoretical and applied scopes.

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