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Biology and Evolution of Marine Organisms Department

Tel. +39 081 5833318
Fax: +39 081 7641355
e-mail giovanna.ponte(at)szn.it
Contatto Skype: gio.brain

Curriculum Vitae

Research interests

I study the neuromodulation in order to understand the mechanisms underlying neural plasticity in different marine organisms, with attention to the comparative and phylogenetic analysis of genomic innovations of cephalopods (i.e. 'new' and cephalopod-specific genes). The analysis of cellular types (neuromodulation) intersects with the evaluation of the evolutionary paths that guided neural complexity (cerebrotypes) during the course of evolution (e.g., sipunculids, cephalopods) allowing their adaptation to different marine living environments.
The study of the octopus 'connectome' allows the characterization of neuronal populations (neuronal territories and individual cells in the brain) by combining approaches that lead to the localization of the molecular footprint and neuromodulators in the nervous system, including functional analysis (approaches of neurophysiology and imaging) of target brain areas assigned to the processing and control of both visual and tactile sensorimotor systems.

The neurophysiological characterization of the nervous system integrates the analysis of the neuro-modulatory component (e.g., octopamine and dopamine) and its plastic capacity (LTP and LTD) in functional preparations (slice), with underlying biological mechanisms (e.g., gene expression).
The exploration of neural 'nets' (e.g., sipunculids) is expected to contribute to further exploring neuro-morpho functional innovations in the Lophotrochozoa.

I contributed to the standardization of the experimental procedures for cephalopod care and welfare, a work that has gained the recognition of the European Commission for the implementation of the Directive European 2010/63/EU and FELASA. I have contributed to the draft genome of O. vulgaris and to the application of organismal biology approaches to the study of animal welfare.

Selected Publications

De Sio, F., Hanke, F.D., Warnke, K., Marazia, C., Galligioni, V., Fiorito, G., Stravidou, I., Ponte, G. (2020). E Pluribus Octo – Building Consensus on Standards of Care and Experimentation in Cephalopod Research; a Historical Outlook. Frontiers in Physiology 11: 645; doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00645.

Cooke, G.M., Anderson, D.B., Begout, M.-L., Dennison, N., Osorio, D., Tonkins, B., Kristiansen, T., Fiorito, G., Galligioni, V., Ponte, G., Andrews, P.L. (2019). Prospective severity classification of scientific procedures in cephalopods: Report of a COST FA1301 Working Group survey. Laboratory Animals 53: 541-563; doi: 10.1177/0023677219864626

Frasnelli, E., Ponte, G., Vallortigara, G., Fiorito, G. (2019). Visual Lateralization in the Cephalopod Mollusk Octopus vulgaris. Symmetry 11: 1121; doi: 10.3390/sym11091121

Ponte, G., Andrews, P., Galligioni, V., Pereira, J., Fiorito, G. (2019). Cephalopod Welfare, Biological and Regulatory Aspects: An EU Experience. In: The Welfare of Invertebrate Animals, eds. C. Carere & J. Mather. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. p. 209-228; doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-13947-6_9

Imperadore, P., Lepore, M.G., Ponte, G., Pflüger, H.-J., Fiorito, G. (2019). Neural pathways in the pallial nerve and arm nerve cord revealed by neurobiotin backfilling in the cephalopod mollusk Octopus vulgaris. Invertebrate Neuroscience 19: 5; doi: 10.1007/s10158-019-0225-y

Zarrella, I., Herten, K., Maes, G.E., Tai, S., Yang, M., Seuntjens, E., Ritschard, E.A., Zach, M., Styfhals, R., Sanges, R., Simakov, O., Ponte, G., Fiorito, G. (2019). The survey and reference assisted assembly of the Octopus vulgaris genome. Scientific Data 6: 13; doi: 10.1038/s41597-019-0017-6

O’Brien, C.E., Ponte, G., Fiorito, G. (2019). "Octopus" In: Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (Second Edition), ed. J.C. Choe. (Oxford: Academic Press), p. 142-148.

Shigeno, S., Andrews, P.L.R., Ponte, G., Fiorito, G. (2018). Cephalopod Brains: An Overview of Current Knowledge to Facilitate Comparison with Vertebrates. Front. Physiol. 9: 952; doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00952

Marini, G., De Sio, F., Ponte, G., Fiorito, G. (2017). Behavioral Analysis of Learning and Memory in Cephalopods. In: Learning and Memory: A Comprehensive Reference (Second Edition), ed. J.H. Byrne. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Academic Press, Elsevier. p. 441-462.

Ponte, G., Modica, M.V. (2017). Salivary Glands in Predatory Mollusks: Evolutionary Considerations. Front. Physiol. 8: 580; doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00580

Baldascino, E., Di Cristina, G., Tedesco, P., Hobbs, C., Shaw, T.J., Ponte, G., Andrews, P.L.R. (2017). The Gastric Ganglion of Octopus vulgaris: Preliminary Characterization of Gene- and Putative Neurochemical-Complexity, and the Effect of Aggregata octopiana Digestive Tract Infection on Gene Expression. Front. Physiol. 8: 1001; doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.01001

Ponte, G., Fiorito, G. (2015). Immunohistochemical Analysis of Neuronal Networks in the Nervous System of Octopus vulgaris. In: Immunocytochemistry and Related Techniques, eds. A. Merighi & L. Lossi.Humana Press & Springer Science, New York. p. 61-77.

Margheri L, Ponte G, Mazzolai B, Laschi C and Fiorito G. (2011). Non-invasive study of Octopus vulgaris arm morphology using ultrasound. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214: 3727-3731; doi: 10.1242/jeb.057323

Canali E, Ponte G, Belcari P, Rocha F, Fiorito G. (2011). Evaluating age in Octopus vulgaris: estimation, validation and seasonal differences. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 441: 141-149

Book chapters
Tricarico E, Amodio P, Ponte G, Fiorito G. (2014). Cognition and Recognition in the Cephalopod Mollusc Octopus vulgaris: Coordinating Interaction with Environment and Conspecifics. In: Biocommunication of Animals (ed. Witzany, G.), pp. 337-349. Springer Netherlands

Other pubblications
Shaw T, Osborne M, Ponte G, Fiorito G, Andrews P. (2014). Mechanisms of wound closure following acute amputation injury in Octopus vulgaris. Wound Repair and Regeneration, 22: A97-A97.

Ponte G, Edelman DB, Fiorito G (2011). Anti-Hrp epitope in Octopus vulgaris neural tissue: the first among lophtrochozoans. J Shellfish Res 30:1018

Pagano E, Ponte G, Andrews PLR, Fiorito G (2011). A comparative analysis of different anaesthetics in octopus: towards true anaesthesia? J Shellfish Res 30:1016

Choe Y, Abbott LC, Ponte G, Keyser J, Kwon J, Mayerich D, Miller D, Han D, Grimaldi AM, Fiorito G, Edelman DB, McKinstry J L. (2010). Charting out the octopus connectome at submicron resolution using the knife-edge scanning microscope. BMC Neuroscience, 11: 136

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