Biotechnologies for the Environment

People: Roberta Congestri, Laura Bruno, Cinzia Forni, Luciana Migliore, Maria Cristina Thaller, Antonella Canini, Bianca Gustavino

  • Development of monitoring methods for microalgal and cyanobacterial growth in aquatic ecosystems; selected algal biomass production for biotechnological application in the fields of environment, bioenergy and nanotechnology; integration of optimized biomass production into bioremediation process of wastewaters. Development of monitoring methods for microalgal and cyanobacterial growth in aquatic biofilms and coastal phytoplankton, especially toxic and bloom forming species; image analysis method for automatic cyanobacterial recognition, early warning for phycotoxin release in the environment, Ostreopsis spp. bloom monitoring and biofouling control in industrial systems. (Roberta Congestri)
  • Selected algal biomass production for biotechnological application in the fields of environment, bioenergy and nanotechnology; integration of optimized biomass production, pilotscale photobioreactors, into bioremediation process of wastewaters. Phosphorus, nitrogen and heavy metal abatement in effluent waters. Characterization of fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) produced by selected microalgae and cyanobacteria. (Laura Bruno, Roberta Congestri)
  • Phytoremediation with higher plants. Detection of bioaccumulation of pollutants, tolerance and stress responses by different plant species. Use of aquatic macrophytes in wastewater treatment plant. Utilization of different strategies  for the recovery of salt affected soils. Screening in vitro and in vivo of salt tolerant species, determination of the effects of salt stress on plant metabolism. Preservation of plant gene pools, application of different methodologies to the preservation of biodiversity of crops and trees. In vitro cultures methods , i.e. slow growth and cryopreservation, and biochemical and physiological studies of the mechanisms related to stress response and cryoprotection. Use of natural compounds as elicitors of acquired systemic resistance in crop plants. (Cinzia Forni)
  • Development of methods for the identification of the effects of environmental stress in seagrasses: the choice and combination of descriptors (easily measurable, sensitive and responsive to environmental changes) requires the knowledge of organism ecophysiology. In the case of seagrasses, to assess their conservation state, descriptors have been identified based on biochemical approaches (concentration of total phenols, photosynthetic pigments); they can provide timely and reliable information on the ecophysiological state of plants. The metagenomic study of the microbial communities associated with leaves and rhizomes-roots, which is the other partner of the plants in the so-called ‘seagrass holobiont’, has been now added to these descriptors. This integrated approach allows to acquire information on the functional relations between microbial communities and improve the understanding of environmental processes. (Luciana Migliore, Maria Cristina Thaller)
  • Characterization of environmental bacterial species, analysis of their potential metabolic activities in environmental biotechnologies and zootechnics; cloning of the related genic determinants. (Luciana Migliore, Maria Cristina Thaller)
  • Genotoxic and mutagenic potential monitoring of environmental contamination by physical and chemical pollutants in air, water, soil / sediment through the use of standard test systems (plants, fish, mammalian and human cells), as well as in specimens from natural populations exposed in situ or ex situ. Mechanism of DNA damage induction of the detected mutagenic pollutants. Validation studies for the development of novel bio-indicator organisms of mutagenic / genotoxic effects (both in animal and plant systems) to be employed in bio-monitoring of the different environmental compartments. (Bianca Gustavino)