Comparative Genomics of Non-Model Invertebrates

Mattia Giacomelli

Mattia Giacomelli is working on ESR Project 8: Ecdysozoa as a model system to test early animal evolution under the supervision of Davide Pisani at the University of Bristol, UK. In his project he looks at Ecdysozoa, the most diverse and abundant group in the living world, which shows a broad range of genomic and phenotypic features, especially in terms of genome size and morphological diversity, as well as differences in the rate of molecular evolution. In order to resolve the unclear relationships among its members, Mattia is going to sequence and assemble de novo genomes of ecdysozoan neglected phyla (Loricifera, Kinorhyncha and Tardigrada) and create a new phylogenomic dataset. This will be analyzed within a holistic framework, where genomic data will be combined and merged with morphological and paleontological data. In this way, Mattia hopes to reconstruct the genomic content and phenotype of the last common ecdysozoan ancestor and ultimately, with the help of molecular clock analyses, estimate the age of divergence of this clade.
While doing his Bachelor degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Milan, Italy, Mattia received training in every aspect of Life Sciences: from biological disciplines in their strict sense to the classical sciences describing the combination of physical, chemical and geological processes that shape life from its very appearance on Earth. Later on, Mattia decided then to choose a master degree in Marine Biology at the Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy, which allowed him to have a robust overview on the incredible biodiversity present on our planet (during his thesis he investigated the faunal community associated to Cystoseira compressa, a habitat-forming algae species in the Adriatic Sea). After that he continued his scientific attemps in understanding how evolution has been taken place on our planet by winning an internship with the Paleobiology group at the University of Bristol. There, Marttia has been trained in the field of phylogenomics and started working on the evolution of Ecdysoza.

Animal evolution has always been a major interest for Mattias, the astonishing diversity of forms and shapes present in our planet, both in the present and the past. Through the years this interest was continuously cultivated by reading books and essays, going to conferences and watching videos and documentaries related to the topic. Besides science, Mattias other big passion is music: "I have been playing the guitar since I was a child and I use to listen music all day long (classical music and blues are among my favourite genres). I also love to hike (I have recently been to trek in the Annapurna region in Nepal) and scuba diving."

Institution: University of Bristol 

ESR Project 8: Ecdysozoa as a model system to test early animal evolution

Print this article