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fiorito grazianoResearch Director
Biology and Evolution of Marine Organisms Department

Tel. +39 081 5833303
Fax: +39 081 7641355
e-mail graziano.fiorito(at)szn.it

Curriculum Vitae

Research interests

We study biological and behavioral plasticity in order to understand the mechanisms underlying the evolution of complex cognitive abilities.
We utilize different approaches and different levels of organization to contribute to the understanding of biological plasticity. The cephalopod mollusc Octopus vulgaris is our target organism.
Together with other cephalopod species octopuses are the sole invertebrates included in the list of regulated species for use in experiments in compliance with Directive 2010/63/EU and transposed national legislation.
The octopus represents an unique case because:
1) it exhibits behavioral flexibility and cognitive skills comparable to those of higher vertebrates;
2) the "brain" offers functional analogies and reaches levels of complexity typical of the neural connectomes of higher vertebrates;
3) it exhibits marked inter-individual differences in behavioral responses likely due to factors such as individual experience, epigenetic changes, genetic and neural differences.

Studies of learning and problem-solving capabilities, responses to stimuli, 'emotions' and cognitive skills are combined with those contributing to the understanding of neural and muscle regeneration. The focus on O. vulgaris does not exclude comparative studies with other species of cephalopods.
Our research activities encompass approaches ranging from neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization and molecular biology (gene expression and transcriptomics) and studies with typical methodologies of behavioral biology and physiology.

Together with the colleagues Ponte and Imperadore we operate as a European reference for the best practice applied to animal welfare in scientific research and the implementation of Directive 2010/63/EU for cephalopods. We are also committed to creating a series of community-based resources for the use of cephalopods as "laboratory" animals in compliance with Directive 2010/63/EU.

Selected Publications

Borrelli L., Chiandetti C., Fiorito G. (2020). A standardized battery of tests to measure Octopus vulgaris’ behavioural performance. Invertebrate Neuroscience 20: doi.org/10.1007/s10158-020-0237-7

Imperadore, P., Parazzoli, D., Oldani, A., Duebbert, M., Büschges, A., Fiorito G. (2019). From injury to full repair: nerve regeneration and functional recovery in the common octopus, Octopus vulgaris. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 222: jeb209965. doi: 10.1242/jeb.209965.

Imperadore, P., Lepore, M.G., Ponte, G., Pflueger, 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.

Amodio, P., Boeckle, M., Schnell, A.K., Ostojíc, L., Fiorito G., Clayton, N.S. (2019). Grow Smart and Die Young: Why Did Cephalopods Evolve Intelligence? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 34: 45-56. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2018.10.010.

Styfhals, R., Seuntjens, E., Simakov, O., Sanges, R., Fiorito G. (2019). In silico Identification and Expression of Protocadherin Gene Family in Octopus vulgaris. Frontiers in Physiology, 9: 1905. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01905.

Imperadore, P., Fiorito G. (2018). Cephalopod Tissue Regeneration: consolidating over a century of knowledge. Frontiers in Physiology, 9: 593

Shigeno, S., Andrews, P., Ponte, G., Fiorito G. (2018). Cephalopod brains: an overview of current knowledge to facilitate comparison with vertebrates. Frontiers in Physiology, 9: 952.

Amodio, P, Andrews, PLR, Salemme, M, Ponte, G, Fiorito G. (2014). The Use of Artificial Crabs for Testing Predatory Behavior and Health in the octopus. ALTEX 31, 494-499

Shomrat, T, Graindorge, N, Bellanger, C, Fiorito G, Loewenstein, Y, Hochner, B. (2011). Alternative Sites of Synaptic Plasticity in Two Homologous "Fan-out Fan-in" Learning and Memory Networks. Current Biology, 21: 1-10.

Shomrat, T, Zarrella I, Fiorito G, Hochner, B, (2008). The octopus vertical lobe modulates short-term learning rate and uses LTP to acquire long-term memory. Current Biology, 18: 337-342.

Sumbre G, Fiorito G, Flash T, Hochner B, (2005). Motor control of flexible octopus arms. Nature 433: 595-596.

Sumbre G, Gutfreund Y, Fiorito G, Flash T, Hochner B, 2001. Control of octopus arm extension by a peripheral motor program. Science 293: 1845-1848.

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