Evolutionary biology and phylogeny

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course of Evolution and Phylogenesis aims to introduce students to the fundamental principles of evolutionary biology, in terms of mechanisms of evolution, phylogenetic theories, evolutionary relationships between various groups of organisms.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will have an understanding of animal phylogenesis and the main and most modern techniques of reconstruction of phylogenetic trees. The student will acquire skills regarding the methodologies related to systematic and phylogenetic methods, reconstruction and critical analysis of phylogenetic trees.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Lessons for 40 hours will be in asynchronous mode and will consist in video-lessons at student disposition on the Ariel site of the teaching. The first lesson and three more lessons for a total of 8 hours will be held in synchronous mode on the Microsoft Teams platform in order to allow an active interaction with the teacher and give the opportunity to ask questions. The lessons will be recorded and will be at disposition of the students on the same platform.
The program and the didactic material will be unchanged.
Examinations for the first semester will be performed by the Teams platform following the same scheme: discussion of a scientific paper and exposure of a topic chosen by the examiner.
Course syllabus
The course program is articulated into two parts. During the first part, basal knowledge of cladistics systematic and principal methods for phylogenetic reconstruction will be recalled. In the second part, the evolutionary relationships among the principal animal taxa will be presented and critically discussed. Particular attention will be paid upon still debated groups.
Methods of cladistics systematic
Methods for phylogenetic reconstructions
The contribution of molecular biology to the systematic zoology
Theory of tree reconstruction
Origin of pluricellularity: choanoflagellates as possible progenitors of Metazoa
Cnidarians and their planula larvae: radiates or bilaterians?
The new phylogeny of Protostomes: Lofotrocozoa and Ecdisozoa.
Acquisition of bilateral symmetry: Platyhelminthes and the phylogenetic position of Acoela.
Mollusk phylogeny
Phylogenetic relationships among anellids, echiura, sipunculids and pogonophores.
The arthropods: reconsiderations on the phylogenetic position of myriapodes and insects.
The Deuterostomes: the ambulacraria taxon
The chordates: Tunicates and not Cephalochordates are the sister group of vertebrates
Vertebrate phylogeny: the position of petromizontes and missinoids.
Mammals' phylogeny. phylogenetic relationships among Primates.
A case of revision of evolutionary relationships: cetaceans and artiodactylans
Character evolution in Chiroptera.
Prerequisites for admission
The student should have a basic knowledge of animal classification.
Teaching methods
Lessons will be conducted by projecting slides.
Teaching Resources
During the first lesson, some text books will be indicated that can be used to complete the preparation. Moreover the digital versions of the projected slides and of the papers exposed during the lessons will be at disposition of the students at ARIEL site.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The examination is oral and is divided into two parts. First part: the student is asked to explain a scientific paper, written in English and published in an international scientific journal. The paper should regard a topic of the program and can be chosen among those presented during the lessons. Evaluation criteria include: the capacity to clearly identify the problems, the methods and the proposed solutions. Part 2: the student is asked to critically expose a topic chosen by the examiner among those presented during the lessons. Evaluation criteria include: the degree of knowledge of the subject, the capability to communicate using appropriate expressions.
BIO/05 - ZOOLOGY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Professor: Pennati Roberta
Educational website(s)