Marcello Mezzasalma, Natural History Museum, London | October 25, 2018 - 12h00 | CIBIO-InBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão




Chromosomal evolution is a major, yet under-explored, driver of biodiversity. Changes in chromosome number and morphology directly influence reproductive compatibility in sexually reproducing organisms, however, testing for links between chromosomal mutation and phylogenetic and biogeographic diversification has rarely been performed in animals. Madagascar is one of the “hottest” biodiversity hotspots, a global priority for biological research and conservation activities, and a model region to study phylogenetic and biogeographic dynamics. The main objective of CHROMREP is to determine the extent to which chromosomal evolution might explain the extraordinary biodiversity and speciation patterns of reptile radiations from Madagascar. Chromosomal data are currently available for few Malagasy reptiles, leaving their karyological evolution largely unexplored. However, the available literature data and preliminary experimental analyses suggest that different evolutionary lineages display high levels of karyological variability, different sex-determination systems and distinct karyological trends, making them an ideal system to better understand the contribution of chromosomal mutations to biodiversity. CHROMREP employs a phylogenetic approach to analyse diversity, extrapolate biogeographic patterns, and evaluate trait evolution using modern comparative methods to test specific chromosomal evolutionary models. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under grant agreement No 797027.


Marcello Mezzasalma is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoc fellow at the Natural History Museum London. His main scientific interests include cytogenetics, molecular phylogenetics and biogeography. His favorite study animals are vertebrates with a particular focus on Mediterranean and Malagasy amphibians and reptiles.




[Host: Angelica Crottini, Biogegraphy and Evolution]



Image credits: Marcello Mezzasalma & Angelica Crottini