Università degli Studi di Napoli "Parthenope"

Teaching schedule

Academic year: 
Belonging course: 
Course of Bachelor's Degree Programme on BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Disciplinary sector: 
Year of study: 
First Semester
Hours of front activity: 



Course description

The course aims to provide to the students the theoretical and applicative aspects of reproductive processes, embryonic development and evolution of systems in the different vertebrate classes.
The main goal is to drive the students towards the understanding of the mechanisms of cellular differentiation and embryo development through evolution leading to biodiversity.
Knowledge and understanding: The student must demonstrate knowledge of the different reproductive modalities and the embryonic development in the different vertebrate classes related to aquatic and terrestrial life; in particular, the student should learn how organisms develop, the cellular, molecular and genetic mechanisms involved. The student must demonstrate the knowledge of the anatomy of the apparatus and systems, their function, structures and their evolution in the different vertebrate classes.
Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: the student must demonstrate the ability to use their acquired knowledge and to apply them to the scientific issues discussed .He must be able to elaborate discussions about embryogenesis, the different reproductive methodologies, the mechanisms of cell differentiation, the main mechanisms of evolutionary biology. This knowledge will represent the methodological tools that can be used for experimental research in the field of basic and applied biology. To this end, supplementary teaching activities are included which include practical activities in Developmental Biology and Animal Phylogenesis
Autonomy of judgement: the student should be able to assess independently the conceptes acquired during the lectures necessary to evaluate the evolutionary processes, to distinguish the different stages of the embryonic development in the organisms used as model system and to recognise the different apparatus and their phylogenetic origin .
Communication Skills: The student should be able to communicate his knowledge to non expert. He must have the ability to discuss an elaborate on Biology of Development and Animal Phylogenesis using an appropriate scientific language.
Learning Skills:Student must be able to update continuously and deepen topics about Biology of Development and Animal Phylogenesis, widening his knowledge on books and scientific papers.


It is necessary to have acquired the knowledge provided by the Cytology and Histology course.


Developmental biology. Epigenesis and preformism. The main stages of embryonic development. Coelom. Axes of symmetry. The phylotypic stage of development in vertebrates. Genetic control of embryonic development.
Sex determination in vertebrates and invertebrates, gonad development. Germ cells. Difference between spermatogenesis and oogenesis.
Oogenesis. Structure of the ovary. Development of female gametes and ovarian follicles in vertebrates. Hormonal control of oogenesis. Protein synthesis during oogenesis. Vitellogenesis and vitellogenin accumulation. Oocyte maturation. Oogenesis: the complexity of the egg cell.
Comparative testicular structure in vertebrates. Spermatogenesis. Spermioistogenesis. Morphology and biology of spermatozoa. Hormonal control on spermatogenesis.
Fertilization. Mechanisms of sperm-egg interaction. Gametes recognition and adhesion. Ovular activation. Cortical reaction. The control of polyspermy. Pronuclear fusion and diploid reorganization. Structural and metabolic changes after fertilization. In vitro fertilization in mammals.
Segmentation: general characteristics. Amount and distribution of the yolk determines the type of segmentation. Cellular blastoderm formation. Mitotic activity during segmentation. Cytoplasmic localizations. Cells fate determination during embryonic development. Regulative eggs and embryonic territories determination. Presumptive territories maps. Types of different mechanisms of segmentation in model organisms. Cell totipotency. Pluripotency in differentiated cells. Cytoplasmic determinants.
Gastrulation: general aspects with particular regard to the main morphogenetic movements. Embryonic inductions during gastrulation and morphogenesis.
Organogenesis. Neurulation. Spemann and Mangold organizer role during in the neuronal induction. Evolution of embryo epithelial cell sheets after neurulation. Derivatives of the ectoderm: general aspects. Neural crests. Derivatives of the endoderm and mesoderm: general aspects. Homeotic selector genes. Regulatory genes during vertebrate development.
Bird development. Mammals development. Embryonic annexes. Comparative development of embryonic annexes and placental development. Relationships between mother and foetus across the placenta.
Phylogenesis and ontogenesis. Classification. Homology and analogy. Concept of evolution and natural selection. Sagittal, frontal and cross sections to study the anatomy of Chordata. Schools of thought in Systematic Biology: Classical, Cladistic. Principles of cladistics methods. Construction of phylogenetic trees. Synapomorphy.
The origin of life on earth. Geological eras.
Protostomes and Deuterostomes. Characteristics of Chordates and their phylogenetic relationships. Origin of vertebrates and their characteristics.
Origin of Gnathostomes. Elasmobranches. Osteichthyes.
Origin of the Tetrapod. Amphibians.
Reptiliomorpha and origin of Amniotes. Theropoda and origin of the Birds. Synapsed. Mammals.
The organic systems in the various classes of Vertebrates, their evolution and adaptation.
- Origin and evolution of the axial skeleton and appendages. Fins. Limbs and locomotion in Tetrapods.
- Respiratory apparatus: gill and lung respiration; evolution of lung respiration models in vertebrates.
-Generality on the circulatory system: The heart and the aortic arches of fishes and Tetrapods.

Epigenesis and preformationism theory. Coelom. Genetic control of embryonic development. Development of gonads. Germ cells. Oogenesis
Spermatogenesis. Fertilization. Segmentation. Gastrulation.
Organogenesis. Neurulation. Embryonic annexes. Bird development. Mammals development. Evolution of embryonic annexes and placental development. Phylogeny and ontogenesis. Classification. Homology and analogy. Protostomes and Deuterostomes. Characteristics of Chordata and their Phylogenetic Relations. Origin of vertebrates and their characteristics.
Origin of Gnathostomes. Elasmobranches. Osteichthyes.
Origins of Tetrapods. Amphibians.
Reptiliomorpha and origin of the Amniotes. Theropoda and origin of Birds.
Synapsed. Mammals.
The apparatus in the different classes of vertebrates, their evolution and adaptation.
- Evolution of the axial skeleton
- Respiratory system - Circulatory system.

Teaching Methods

The course forecasts 72 hours of frontal lectures;
practical activity
and seminar.


Lectures in pdf format provided by the teacher during the course, available on the link of the Development Biology course and Animal Phylogeny.
Reference books:
Andreuccetti et al., Biologia dello sviluppo, McGraw-Hill
Le Moigne e Foucrier, Biologia dello sviluppo, Edises
-Gilbert, Biologia dello sviluppo, Zanichelli

-Cleveland et al. Diversità animale McGraw-Hill
-Liem, Anatomia Comparata dei Vertebrati ed. EdiSES
-Kardong, Anatomia Comparata dei Vertebrati ed. Feltrinelli, 2005

Learning assessment

The objective of the exam is to check the level of achievement of the above-mentioned training objectives. The exam consists of a single test; an oral test in which the ability to connect and compare different aspects of the course will be evaluated.

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