You are here: HomeStaffList of PersonnelPonte Giovanna

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 its role in mechanisms underlying neural and behavioral plasticity in several marine organisms, with attention to the comparative and phylogenetic analysis and the role of genomic innovations of cephalopods (i.e. 'orphan', cephalopod-specific genes, and transposable elements). The study of neuromodulators fingerprint contributes to the understanding of neural hallmarks of animal cognition and consciousness; it is at the center of my research question. The analysis of unique clusters of neurons (neuromodulation) intersects with the evaluation of the evolutionary paths that guided neural complexity (cerebrotypes) during the course of evolution, allowing organisms to adapt to different marine environments and their life-styles. This is probably also possible for the presence of an active retrotransposon (LINE1) in the nervous system of O. vulgaris. LINE1 in octopus has also important implications for the understanding of its sophisticated plasticity (neural and behavioral).
My main aim is to go beyond the connectome, trying to contribute to the understanding on how neuromodulators shape and tune the neural circuits in these fascinating organisms, i.e. cephalopods. I combine neurophysiology and imaging of target brain areas, considered to play a key role in the processing and control of both visual and tactile sensorimotor systems.
The neuro-physiological characterization of the nervous system of marine organisms is approached through the analysis of the neuro-modulatory components (e.g., octopamine and dopamine) and its plasticity (LTP and LTD) in functional preparations (slice), combining the analysis of the underlying biological machinery (e.g., gene expression, in situ hybridization).
I explore the complexity of the neural tissue and neuromodulation also considering the peripheral nervous system, including the characterization of the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) in octopus: the "Little Brain", still too little known compared to its complexity and analogy to the one of mammals.
I am co-leader of the working group that produced the draft of O. vulgaris genome and currently working for the reassembly and for chromosomal reconstruction and subsequent synteny-analysis; this has facilitated and speed up my research line.

I actively contributed to the application of organismal biology approaches to the study of animal welfare, and cooperated to the standardization of the procedures and guidance for cephalopod care, housing and welfare for experimental purposes. A work that has gained the recognition of FELASA and of the European Commission for the implementation of the Directive European 2010/63/EU to cephalopods in Member States.

Selected Publications

Styfhals, R., Zolotarov, G., Hulselmans, G., Spanier, K.I., Poovathingal, S., Elagoz, A.M., Deryckere, A., Rajewsky, N., Ponte, G., Fiorito, G. and Aerts, S., under revision. Cell type diversity in a developing octopus brain. Nature Communications, bioRxiv

Petrosino, G.*, Ponte, G. *, Volpe, M. *, Zarrella, I., Ansaloni, F., Langella, C., Di Cristina, G., Finaurini, S., Russo, M.T., Basu, S. and Musacchia, F., 2022. Identification of LINE retrotransposons and long non-coding RNAs expressed in the octopus brain. BMC biology, 20(1), pp.1-22; doi: 10.1186/s12915-022-01303-5

Ponte, G., Chiandetti C, Edelman DB, Imperadore, P., Pieroni, E.M., and Fiorito, G. (2022). Cephalopod Behavior: From Neural Plasticity to Consciousness. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 15: 787139; doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2021.787139

Ponte, G., Taite, M., Borrelli, L., Tarallo, A., Allcock, A.L. and Fiorito, G., 2021. Cerebrotypes in Cephalopods: Brain Diversity and its Correlation with Species Habits, Life History, and Physiological Adaptations. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, 14:565109; doi: 10.3389/fnana.2020.565109

De Sio, F., Hanke, F.D., Warnke, K., Marazia, C., Galligioni, V., Fiorito, G., Stravidou, I. and 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

Sykes, A.V., Almansa, E., Ponte, G., Cooke, G.M. and Andrews, P.L., 2020. Can cephalopods vomit? Hypothesis based on a review of circumstantial evidence and preliminary experimental observations. Frontiers in Physiology, 11: 765; doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00765

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

Sykes, A. V., Almansa, E., Cooke, G. M., Ponte, G., Andrews, P. L. (2017). The digestive tract of cephalopods: a neglected topic of relevance to animal welfare in the laboratory and aquaculture. Frontiers in Physiology, 8: 492; doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00492

Ponte, G., Sykes, A. V., Cooke, G. M., Almansa, E., & Andrews, P. L. (2017). The digestive tract of cephalopods: toward non-invasive in vivo monitoring of its physiology. Frontiers in Physiology, 8: 403; doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00403

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