Environmental and agro-food biophysics

Image: Monica Zoppè, SciVis,CNR

Biophysics of the sea

The analysis of the marine environment allows us to understand the impact of human activities on the environment. An important part of our work is focused on the investigation of the marine carbon cycle, with a specific attention to the dynamics of dissolved organic matter (DOM), as well as the biological lability of organic matter released by phytoplankton. The flow of organic material between marine organisms and the ecological-environmental dynamics of zooplankton are examined, with the application of the “omic” sciences of these organisms. The effects of climate change on ichthy species and invertebrates are also studied.

Principal investigators: Paolo DomeniciSerena ComoElisa CamattiChiara SantinelliValtere EvangelistaStefano VestriGiovanni CheccucciStefano Vignudelli


Nanoparticles in the environment

We study the toxicity of polluting micro- and nanoplastics in the marine environment. Microalgae are used as a model of biological receptor. Analysis of micro- and nanoplastics in the marine environment is performed by Raman microscopy.

Principal investigators: Elisabetta MorelliMario D’Acunto



Photosynthesis occurs when light leads to a cascade of electron transfers in specialized compartments called reaction centers, which are part of super-complexes of proteins and cofactors known as photosystems. The formulation of structural models of photosystems allow an analysis of the molecular mechanism of electron transfer by means of spectroscopic techniques.

By studying the spectroscopic properties of light absorption in diatoms and cyanobacteria, commonly used in biotechnological applications, it is possible to better understand the biochemical responses and the genetic regulation of these organisms and the associated biophysical processes, allowing the formulation of improvements in the productivity of photoreactors.

Principal investigator: Stefano Santabarbara Giuseppe Zucchelli


Natural products and Nutraceuticals

Products and molecules of natural origin are explored and new methods of fractionation, purification and characterization are investigated. Bioactive molecules from complex systems of agri-food origin is carried out, with the aim of exploring their nutraceutical properties. In particular, the antioxidant, anti-aging, antibacterial, neuroprotective and anti-amyloidogenic properties in neurodegenerative processes are studied in cellular models. Particular interest is given to food production waste as a contribution to the circular economy.

In this area, bio-adhesives have been identified for aqueous environments from fluff, formulations of hydrogels as a three-dimensional niche for adiposestem cells, biomedical devices for the treatment of skin lesions based on new polysaccharides and polysaccharides as substitutes for glutern-free baking.

Principal investigators: Rosa PassantinoDaniela GiacomazzaDonatella BuloneValeria GuarrasiMaria Assunta Costa