A cura di MIUR - Direzione Generale per il coordinamento la promozione e la valorizzazione della ricerca

From the past to the future of marine biology. The Anton Dohrn Zoological Station


The mission of the Zoological Station is the research on fundamental processes of biology, with specific reference to marine organisms and their diversity, in conjunction with the study of their evolution and dynamics of marine ecosystems, through an integrated and interdisciplinary approach. The results obtained and/or obtainable contribute to the advancement of biology, including biomedical applications and knowledge of the biota functioning (word which indicates the collection of organisms in a geographic region or a time period).


The Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn of Naples (SZN) is one of twelve research institutions supervised by the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), whose reorganization took place following the issuance of D. Lgs. no.213/2009.

Between the national and international research institutions, the SZN originality derives from some key features:

  • the co-existence of biological (individual organisms) and ecological (complex of interacting organisms) research, through a multidisciplinary approach that includes ecology, oceanography, genetics, developmental and cellular biology, physiology, neuroscience, behavioral biology, etc.;
  • the ability to explore and develop methodologies and experimental protocols in marine organisms, which become reference for important research applications  transferred to other systems and/or organisms;
  • the expertise on a broad spectrum of organisms, which allows SZN researchers to address ecological problems evaluating the contribution of the biological component in its complexity;
  • the ability to develop research activities and, at the same time, to provide specialized scientific technology with high-impact and multidisciplinary approach.

Making use of the above-listed characteristics, the SZN has focused his research interests on some topics and themes:  

  • marine biodiversity;
  • study of the fundamental mechanisms in the biology of organisms;
  • evolution, ecology and functioning of marine ecosystems;
  • innovation and biotechnology development.

research sznresearch szn

The characterization of the organisms living in a given environment is the essential key to describe "biodiversity", i.e. the multiplicity in which life manifests itself on earth. The Zoological Station has a strong tradition in the field of studies of the diversity of marine organisms, studies that in the last 20 years have been accompanied by approaches of molecular phylogeny and population genetics, which have produced significant contributions to the understanding of the level of diversity of different groups of organisms. In this field, the SZN also offers an important contribution through the public aquarium and the natural history museum, located in its central site.

In recent years, SZN research allowed to refine the most advanced tools for the study of some marine organisms chosen as a model. Considering the uniqueness of the marine environment for its biodiversity and also for its chemical and physical properties, it is plausible to hypothesize that studies of marine organisms can bring fundamental contributions to the understanding of biological phenomena at various levels.

Another SZN’s objective is to understand the functioning of marine ecosystems looking both at the internal dynamics and at the external forcing on various time scales. It is clear that addressing this kind of questions has enormous and direct implications for the human being and is a fruitful challenge for the advancement of knowledge. Finally, the SZN participated in the development of the European strategy in the field of Marine Biotechnology: in the context of so-called "Blue Biotechnologies" the interest of SZN focuses especially on the isolation and characterization of new natural products from microorganisms.

CDB - Laboratorio di Biologia Cellulare e dello Sviluppo
EEP - Laboratorio di Ecologia ed Evoluzione del Plancton
FEE - Laboratorio di Ecologia Funzionale e Evolutiva
APE - Laboratorio di Fisiologia Animale ed Evoluzione
Publication date 02/20/2013