Foto del docente

Liliana Milani

Associate Professor

Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences

Academic discipline: BIO/06 Comparative Anatomy and Cytology

Curriculum vitae

Professional Preparation

PhD, Biodiversity and Evolution, Excellent, University of Bologna, 2012

M.S. Natural Science, summa cum laude, University of Bologna, 2006



2021/present Associate Professor, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna

2018/2021 RTDb), Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna

2015/2018 RTDa), Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna 

2012/2015 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna

2009/2011 PHD Student, Department of Experimental Evolutionary Biology, University of Bologna

2006/2008 Scientist, Department of Experimental Evolutionary Biology, University of Bologna


National scientific qualification to function as Full Professor [Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale (Fascia: I) Settore concorsuale 05/B2 (Anatomia Comparata e Citologia)]

National scientific qualification to function as Associate Professor [Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale (Fascia: II) Settore concorsuale 05/B2 (Anatomia Comparata e Citologia)]


Associate Editor for Genome Biology and Evolution 2015-present

Guest Editor for Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B - Issue Title: “Linking the mitochondrial genotype to phenotype: a complex endeavour”


Research interests

  • Germ Line Development
  • Mitochondrial Inheritance
  • Evolution



As Principal investigator

Project: “Unraveling Sex Determination in Bivalves: An Integrative Single-Cell Analysis during the Early Embryo Development of Mytilus galloprovincialis”. PRIN 2022 (code: 2022CYM559). Funding: €229,870.

Project: “Mitochondria, Germ Line and Sex (MINGLE)” (code: RBSI14G0P5). Italian “Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca” – “Scientific Independence of young Researchers (SIR) 2014” grant (2015-2018) (success rate < 3%. Three rounds of review. Score: A level after a final interview). Funding: €279,400 euro.


Teaching activity

2022/present COMPARATIVE ANATOMY (Bachelor's degree in Scienze biologiche)

2018/present EVO-DEVO (Master's degree in Biodiversità ed evoluzione)

2017/present MODELS AND METHODS IN CELL BIOLOGY (Master's degree in Molecular and cell biology)



I attended courses of the Master’s degree program in Astronomy at the University of Bologna from 1995/1999, where I passed several exams with high marks. Having in the meanwhile developed scientific interest in evolutionary biology, in 2000 I changed to Natural Science courses. As Master Degree’s thesis I studied the microevolution in the stick-insect complex Leptynia attenuata (Insecta Phasmida) using both karyological and molecular data (advisors: Prof. Valerio Scali and Dr Marco Passamonti; Department of Experimental Evolutionary Biology, University of Bologna). Since then, I was particularly interested in reproductive biology, germ line development and evolution of unusual reproductive systems (e.g. parthenogenesis, androgenesis, hybridogenesis).

During my PhD in Biodiversity and Evolution I mainly focused on mitochondrial inheritance and on the role of these organelles in germ line formation using bivalve molluscs with Doubly Uniparental Inheritance (DUI) of mitochondria as model system. The contribution of mitochondria in animal germ cell formation has been already documented, particularly in connection to the nuage, a cytoplasmic structure in which molecules indispensable for germ line determination are aggregated in association with the so called “mitochondrial cloud”. Since then, I focused my research on the study of mitochondrial activity in germ line development.



As the PI of a PRIN22 project, I will study the mechanisms of sex determination and germline development in Bivalvia, a highly diverse class whose species differ deeply in biology and ecology, making them a valuable source to better understand the evolution of sex. I want to identify molecular mechanisms involved in germline specification and sex determination. To achieve such knowledge, we will compare the transcriptional profiles of eggs and early embryos of both sexes by performing single cell molecular characterization.

As the PI of the project "Mitochondria, Germ Line and Sex" (SIR 2014), I studied the mechanisms of mitochondrial inheritance and heteroplasmy (contemporary presence of multiple mitochondrial variants). DUI organisms were used because they transmit sperm mitochondria, an ideal system to study the relationships between mitochondrial activity and mitochondrial genome deterioration, and for their natural heteroplasmic soma. The main questions I would like to answer: which mitochondria are inherited? Is there a phenotype under selection favouring their segregation in the primordial germ cells?

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