Professor of Zoology, University of Salento

Research activity deals with several aspects of biology and evolution of marine invertebrates, with special reference to Cnidaria. The Cnidaria are represented both in plankton and benthos and the study of their life cycles led to investigate both the pelagic and the benthic domains. The study of these organisms falls in a general framework to understand large- scale phenomena and rules governing the abundance and distribution of species.

More recently, growing interests concerning arguments of cell biology and reproduction biology developed. The molecular approach has been applied initially to integrate traditional morphological taxonomy in order to obtain a correct interpretation of the systematics and phylogeny of the group. Investigations on life cycle has been directed toward the understanding of mechanisms governing development and morphogenesis. A unique phenomenon in the animal kingdom has been discovered in a few hydrozoan species, the ability to revert the life cycle, or ontogeny reversal by cell transdifferentiation.

I am currently Project Coordinator of the MED-JELLYRISK project (www.jellyrisk.eu) funded by the European ENPI CBCMED programme to address an integrated coastal management approach into 10 Marine Coastal Zones (MCZs) in the Western and Central Mediterranean sea basin to face with increased jellyfish proliferations. I am also Workpackage Leader of another EU international programme dealing with drivers of change in European seas, including species outbreaks and bioinvasions(VECTORS).

Experience

  • –present
    Scientific Coordinator, MED-JELLYRISK, University of Salento

Honours

Past-President International Hydrozoan Society