First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Science
Course unit
SCP8085021, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2018/19

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
SC1178, Degree course structure A.Y. 2014/15, A.Y. 2019/20
bring this page
with you
Number of ECTS credits allocated 9.0
Type of assessment Mark
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Biology
E-Learning website
Mandatory attendance
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge LUCIA MANNI BIO/06
Other lecturers GIUSEPPE FUSCO BIO/05

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses BIO/05 Zoology 4.0
Core courses BIO/06 Comparative Anatomy and Citology 5.0

Course unit organization
Period First semester
Year 2nd Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Practice 1.0 12 13.0 No turn
Laboratory 0.5 8 4.5 No turn
Lecture 7.5 60 127.5 No turn

Start of activities 30/09/2019
End of activities 18/01/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2014 course timetable

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
1 ECO-EVO-DEVO: AMBIENTE, EVOLUZIONE E SVILUPPO 2019-2020 01/10/2019 27/11/2020 MANNI LUCIA (Presidente)
FUSCO GIUSEPPE (Membro Effettivo)

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of developmental biology, ecology and evolutionary biology.
Target skills and knowledge: The teaching course allows students to integrate the fundamental basis of developmental mechanisms (“Devo”) and evolutionary dynamics (“Evo”) with specific notions on the interactions of these processes with the environment (“Eco”). Moreover, the course allows the acquisition of specific knowledge of the principles and applications resulting from the integration of the two disciplines, and develops communication and didactic skills about them.
Knowledges will concern:
1) Fertilization
2) Developmental plasticity
3) Environmental epigenetics
4) Developmental symbiosis
5) Developmental physiology
6) Teratogenesis
7) Endocrine disruptors
8) Evolutionary change, features and evidence
9) Structure and contents of the evolutionary theory
10) Outline of an extended evolutionary synthesis
11) Interactions between developmental and evolutionary processes (evo-devo)
12) Evolvability
13) Phenotypic plasticity and evolution
14) Evolutionary developmental biology and teaching.
The abilities acquired by students will be:
1) Use of appropriate scientific terminology
2) Ability to synthetize information and autonomy of judgement
3) Communicative and didactic skills about eco-evo-devo.
Examination methods: The exam occurs thorough an oral test aiming to point out the scientific knowledge and lexicon, the ability to synthetize, and the critical discussion acquired during the teaching course.
Assessment criteria: In the oral exam, the knowledge of treated issues during frontal lessons, the ability to link them each other, the ability to synthetize information, and the propriety of language will be tested.
Course unit contents: The frontal lesson program content, in synthesis, is the following:
1) General aspects of development, fertilization, evolution of developmental processes (evo-devo) (7 hours)
2) Developmental plasticity: the environment as normal agent in producing phenotypes, eco-devo, temperature-dependent phenotypes, nutritional polyphenisms, gravity and pressure, predator-induced and conspecific-induced polyphenisms (3 hours)
3) Environmental epigenetics: how agents in the environment effect molecular changes in development, regulation of gene transcription, signal transduction from the environment to the genome via the neuroendocrine system, transgenerational epigenetic transmission (3 hours)
4) Developmental symbiosis; co-development as a strategy, the “grand” symbiosis, life cycle symbiosis, the holobiont perspective, the origin of the holobiont, the mutualistic bacteria of the gut (3 hours)
5) Developmental physiology for survival in changing environments: developmental robustness, the absence of responses in cleavage stages, strategies for embryo defense, protection against toxic substances, physical damage, oxidative damage, damage to DNA, pathogens, predation, global climate change (3 hours)
6) Teratogenesis: environmental assaults in development, medical embryology and teratology, teratogenic agents (6 hours)
7) Endocrine disruptors: the nature of endocrine disruptors, estrogen and endocrine disruptors, declining sperm counts and testicular dysgenesis syndrome, plastics and plasticity, transgenerational effects of endocrine disruptors (3 hours)
8) Evolutionary change, features and evidence (4 hours)
9) Structure and contents of the evolutionary theory: anagenesis, cladogenesis, natural selection, adaptation, classical mathematical formalisms (12 hours)
10) Outline of an extended evolutionary synthesis: inheritance epigenetic systems, multidimensional adaptive landscapes, innovation theory, multilevel selection, macroevolutionary trends (4 hours)
11) Interactions between developmental and evolutionary processes: role and structure of variation, developmental constraints, cooption, homology revisited (evo-devo) (8 hours)
12) Evolvability (2 hours)
14) Phenotypic plasticity and evolution (2 hours).

The program of the laboratory activities is the following (8 hours):
1) In vitro fertilization and observation of first developmental stages in sea urchin and a solitary ascidian. Metamorphosis in both the animal models.
2) Asexual reproduction in a colonial ascidian. In vivo observation of different developmental stages.
The program of the exercise in classroom is the following (12 hours):
1) Conception, planning and realization of the communication event “Naturalistic afternoon” for the bachelor and master students of the Department of Biology, during which the student (alone or in small groups) present an in-depth study on a topic related to Eco-Evo-Devo.
2) Realization of a radio communication event in form of a short interview on the topic presented during the “Naturalistic afternoon”.
3) Exercises on building and interpreting phylogenetic trees
4) Simulations of teaching in the field of evo-devo.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: The teaching course is organized in frontal lessons in classroom, whose contents are presented using ppt files with images, schemes and videos. The teaching activity is interactive, with critical reading of scientific papers, critical participation to seminars, analyses of tools for natural sciences communication and teaching (textbooks, documentaries, texts and movies downloaded from web). The laboratory activities are organized in three sessions, during which the development of three different animal models is analyzed in vivo. Each laboratory activity is introduced by a short ppt presentation with images, schemes and video. The exercises in classroom are related to practice of developmental and evolutionary biology communication, both in groups and with audience.
Additional notes about suggested reading: All the didactic supporting materials (ppt for frontal lessons, scientific papers for case studies, review for updating of suggested text books, movies, and didactic cards used during the laboratory activities) are available to students on the e-learning web-page of the teaching activity.

Reference textbooks
Gilbert S.F. 2010. Developmental Biology (IX ed.). Sinauer
Futuyma D.J., 2008. L’evoluzione. Zanichelli
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Gilbert S.F. & Epel D., Eco-Devo. Ambiente e Biologia dello Sviluppo. --: Piccin, 2015. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Ferraguti M. & Castellacci C., Evoluzione: modelli e meccanismi. --: Pearson, 2011. Cerca nel catalogo

Innovative teaching methods: Teaching and learning strategies
  • Lecturing
  • Laboratory
  • Case study
  • Interactive lecturing
  • Working in group
  • Questioning
  • Use of online videos
  • Loading of files and pages (web pages, Moodle, ...)
  • Students peer review
  • Learning journal

Innovative teaching methods: Software or applications used
  • Moodle (files, quizzes, workshops, ...)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Good Health and Well-Being Quality Education Gender Equality Clean Water and Sanitation Affordable and Clean Energy Sustainable Cities and Communities Responsible Consumption and Production Climate Action Life Below Water Life on Land