Alessandro Minelli

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Alessandro Minelli (born December 20, 1948 in Treviso, Italy) is an Italian biologist and a professor emeritus of Zoology in the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences of the University of Padova mainly working on evo-devo subjects.

Alessandro Minelli
Alessandro Minelli.jpg
Born (1948-12-20) December 20, 1948 (age 65)
Treviso, Italy
Residence Padova
Nationality Italy
Fields zoology, evo-devo
Institutions University of Padova
Alma mater University of Padova 1966-70
Known for evo-devo


Alessandro Minelli studied Natural Sciences at the University of Padova 1966-70 with a Master degree in 1970. In 1983 he took a sabbatical in Munich. From 1987-2012 Minelli was a Full Professor of Zoology at the University of Padova. He is married and has two daughters.[citation needed]

Activity in international organisations[edit]

  • International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (member since 1989, president 1995-2001)
  • European Society for Evolutionary Biology (vice-president (1997–99)
  • International Organization of Systematics and Evolutionary Biology (member since 1996)
  • Editorial activity in several zoological journals.

Academic memberships[edit]

  • Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze, detta dei LX
  • Accademia Nazionale Italiana di Entomologia
  • Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti
  • Istituto Lombardo Accademia di Scienze e Lettere
  • Accademia Olimpica
  • Ateneo di Treviso
  • Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London.

Research interests[edit]

Up to the mid '90s, Minelli's main scientific interests have been the phylogeny and taxonomy of myriapods as well as the principles and methods of biological systematics. Since the early 90s, his main research interests have turned towards evolutionary developmental biology, with special regards to the origin and evolution of appendages and segmentation. Specifically, recent and current research activity includes

  • Evolutionary developmental biology: origin and evolution of segmentation, body axes, appendages; periodization of development; use of comparative method in the analysis of ontogenetic processes
  • Developmental biology and molecular developmental genetics of myriapods
  • Principles and methods of biological systematics and the comparative method in biology
  • Phylogenetics, taxonomy and faunistics of Chilopoda
  • Zoological Nomenclature

Scientific contributions[edit]

Minelli is best known[according to whom?] for his studies in evolutionary developmental biology, or evo-devo. His main contributions are about the conceptual foundations of this discipline.[1][2][3][4][5] In his search for an intellectual framework common to evolutionary biology and developmental biology, he has strongly argued against the widespread adultocentrism,[1] that is, interpreting development, in a more or less distinct teleological vein, as a process targeted to the production of an adult animal or plant. At variance with the most popular trend in evo-devo, which is based on comparative developmental genetics and has a clear focus on early stages of embryonic development, the approach defended by Minelli is strongly rooted in comparative morphology and aims to extend to postembryonic development. His approach moves from a revisitation of the traditional concepts of homology. According to Minelli, the homology relationships between two structures is necessarily limited to selected features of those structures, thus requiring the adoption a factorial, or combinatorial concept of homology.[6] Minelli has introduced new concepts, such as axis paramorphism [7] (useful for understanding the evolutionary relationships between the main axis of the body and its appendages) and those of eosegment and merosegment,[8] through which he suggests a radical revisitation of the architecture of the body of segmented animals.[9][10][11] Minelli has also explored the implication of evo-devo for biological systematics,[12][13] speciation[14] and the evolution of life cycles.[15][16]



  • Minelli A. – Perspectives in Animal Phylogeny and Evolution. xiii+345 pp. Oxford: Oxford University Press (Jan. 2009)
  • Minelli A. – Forms of Becoming. 242 pp. Princeton: Princeton University Press (April 2009). [Italian: Forme del divenire. xiii+218 pp. Einaudi, Torino (2007)]
  • Minelli A. & Fusco G. (eds.) Evolving Pathways. Key Themes in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. xviii+426 pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2008).
  • Minelli A., Ortalli G. & Sanga G. (eds.) – Animal Names. Venezia: Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti. ix+574 pp. (2005).
  • Minelli A. – Evo-Devo. 109 pp. Roma: Nuova Argos (2004).
  • Minelli A. – The Development of Animal Form. Cambridge-New York, Cambridge University Press (2003).


  • Golden Medal 2002 for the Physical and Natural Sciences awarded by the Italian Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze detta dei XL
  • Ferrari-Soave Prize 2005 (Animal Biology) awarded by the Accademia delle Scienze, Turin, Italy
  • Sherborn Award 2008 for outstanding service to biodiversity informatics


  1. ^ a b <Minelli, A. (2003), The Development of Animal Form, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ <Minelli, A. (2009), Perspectives in Animal Phylogeny and Evolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ <Minelli, A. (2010), “Evolutionary developmental biology does not offer a significant challenge to the neoDarwinian paradigm,” pp. 213–226 in Ayala F.J. & Arp R. (eds.) Contemporary debates in Philosophy of Biology, Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  4. ^ <Minelli, A. (2011), Minelli, A. “Development, an open-ended segment of life.” Biological Theory 6 (1): 4–15.
  5. ^ <Minelli, A. (2011), “A principle of developmental inertia,” pp. 116–133 in B. Hallgrímsson and B.K. Hall (eds.) Epigenetics: Linking genotype and phenotype in development and evolution, Berkeley-Los Angeles- London, University of California Press.
  6. ^ <Minelli A. (1998), “Molecules, developmental modules and phenotypes: A combinatorial approach to homology.” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 9 (3): 340–347.
  7. ^ <Minelli A. (2000), “Limbs and tail as evolutionarily diverging duplicates of the main body axis.” Evolution & Development 2 (3): 157–165.
  8. ^ <Minelli A. (2000), “Holomeric vs. meromeric segmentation: A tale of centipedes, leeches, and rhombomeres.” Evolution & Development 2 (1): 35–48.
  9. ^ <Minelli A. (2001), “A three-phase model of arthropod segmentation.” Development, Genes and Evolution 211 (10): 509-521.
  10. ^ <Minelli A. & Fusco Giuseppe (2004), “Evo-devo perspectives on segmentation: model organisms, and beyond.” Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19 (8): 423–429.
  11. ^ <Hughes Nigel C., Minelli A. & Fusco G. (2006), “The ontogeny of trilobite segmentation: a comparative approach.” Paleobiology 32 (4): 603–628.
  12. ^ <Minelli A. (2007), “Invertebrate taxonomy and evolutionary developmental biology.” Zootaxa 1668: 55–60 (2007)
  13. ^ <Minelli, A. (2009), “Phylo-evo-devo: combining phylogenetics with evolutionary developmental biology.” BMC Biology 7:36; doi 10.1186/1741-7007-7-36
  14. ^ <Minelli A. & Fusco G. (2012), “On the evolutionary developmental biology of speciation.” Evolutionary Biology 39 (2): 242–254; doi 10.1007/s11692-012-9175-6.
  15. ^ < Minelli A., Brena Carlo, Deflorian Gianluca, Maruzzo Diego & Fusco G. (2006), “From embryo to adult. beyond the conventional periodization of arthropod development.” Development Genes and Evolution 216 (7-8): 373–383
  16. ^ <Minelli A. & Fusco G. (2010), “Developmental plasticity and the evolution of animal complex life cycles.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 365 (140): 631–640, doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0268.

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