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The future information society is expected to rely heavily on wireless technology. Mobile access to the Internet is steadily gaining ground, and could easily end up exceeding the number of connections from the fixed infrastructure. Picking just one example, ad hoc networking is a new paradigm of wireless communication for mobile devices. Initially, ad hoc networking targeted at military applications as well as stretching the access to the Internet beyond one wireless hop. As a matter of fact, it is now expected to be employed in a variety of civilian applications. For this reason, the issue of how to make these systems working efficiently keeps the ad hoc research community active on topics ranging from wireless technologies to networking and application systems. In contrast to traditional wire-line and wireless networks, ad hoc networks are expected to operate in an environment in which some or all the nodes are mobile, and might suddenly disappear from, or show up in, the network. The lack of any centralized point, leads to the necessity of distributing application services and responsibilities to all available nodes in the network, making the task of developing and deploying application a hard task, and highlighting the necessity of suitable middleware platforms. This thesis studies the properties and performance of peer-to-peer overlay management algorithms, employing them as communication layers in data sharing oriented middleware platforms. The work primarily develops from the observation that efficient overlays have to be aware of the physical network topology, in order to reduce (or avoid) negative impacts of application layer traffic on the network functioning. We argue that cross-layer cooperation between overlay management algorithms and the underlying layer-3 status and protocols, represents a viable alternative to engineer effective decentralized communication layers, or eventually re-engineer existing ones to foster the interconnection of ad hoc networks with Internet infrastructures. The presented approach is twofold. Firstly, we present an innovative network stack component that supports, at an OS level, the realization of cross-layer protocol interactions. Secondly, we exploit cross-layering to optimize overlay management algorithms in unstructured, structured, and publish/subscribe platforms.