Research

The research programs include both the specific CIABC ones and each participant’s ones. Here follow the research topics active in the 2016-2018 three-year period, organized by research group:

1) Research group of Prof. Caterina De Vito, Laura Medeghini and Silvano Mignardi
a) Removal or immobilization of toxic metals from water and soil polluted by natural and synthetic phosphates produced by food industry waste;
b) Archaeometric characterization of ceramics and archaeological finds;
c) Removal of toxic metals from salty wastewater and CO2 capture by the minerosynthesis of crystalline and amorphous Mg hydrated carbonates.

2) Research group of Prof. Massimo Reverberi
The group studies pathogenic and deteriogenic fungi of food and cultural heritage. The main lines of research can be summarized as follows:
a) molecular biology of fungi
b) biopesticides to limit the growth and production of secondary metabolites by fungi
c) development of sensors to identify fungi and their metabolites in complex matrices
d) sequencing and bioinformatic analysis of micro-organisms which deteriorate cultural heritage

3) Research group coordinated by Prof. Anna Candida Felici
Research and third-party activities have been carried out in the field of non-destructive diagnostics for the study of archaeological and cultural heritage. In particular:
a) Study of Islamic ceramics from Estakhr (Iran)
b) Characterization of alizarin-based lacquers
c) Study using non-destructive techniques of manuscripts preserved at the Lincei and Corsiniana library
d) Non-destructive analysis on a painting kept at the National Academy of San Luca and attributed to El Greco
e) Application of Multispectral Imaging for the recognition of pigments

The group also participated in the ADAMO project funded by the Regione Lazio as part of the Technology and Heritage Activities District - DTC Center of Excellence by performing near-infrared filming of an icon kept at the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin and multispectral shots of the frescoes in the apse of the church of San Nicola in Carcere.

4) Research group of Prof. Carlo Ricotta
The group carries out research in the ecological-vegetal field, mainly focusing on fire ecology, landscape ecology and control of exotic species.
a) Fire ecology
The research is mainly aimed at highlighting the relationships between the passage of fire and the structure, composition and degree of anthropization of the plant landscape. Indeed, these three parameters influence different aspects of the passage of fire; while in many areas of the planet the probabilities of triggering a fire are directly proportional to the degree of anthropization of a territory, the composition and structure of the plant landscape respectively control the quantity and continuity of the fuel, influencing the intensity and extension of the fires. The spatial analysis of the fuel is also supported by the sinfenological monitoring of vegetation using remotely acquired data, used as a complex indicator of the parameters that characterize the bioclimatic conditions most favorable to the passage of fire in Mediterranean and continental Europe.
b) Landscape ecology and satellite ecology
In the field of landscape ecology, the research is mainly devoted to monitoring the spatio-temporal pattern of the plant landscape in response to anthropic alterations and vegetation dynamics. A second line of research is aimed at the use of territorial information systems and remotely-acquired images for maximizing the efficiency of the census of plant species.
c) Control of exotic species
The research is mainly devoted to the study of the impact of exotic species on the floristic diversity of urban ecosystems with a high degree of human settlement. Following the recent socio-economic changes that have strongly favored the displacement of men and goods on a global scale, urban areas have assumed the role of the main gateway for alien species. At the same time, thanks to their peculiar environmental characteristics, cities are ideal habitats for most of these species. The conservation of native species and the management of biodiversity of urban ecosystems is therefore a requirement of primary importance for an effective containment of the spread of exotic species.

5) Research group of Prof. Laura Sadori (Laura Sadori, Alessia Masi)
The group deals with the study of plant fossils in natural and anthropic contexts. Its main lines of research can be summarized as follows:
a) Palaeopalinology of the Quaternary
b) Holocene climatic changes and human impact on vegetation
c) Archaeobotanical of archaeological and historical sites
d) Paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstruction by pollen analysis
e) Study of plant macrofossils by analysis of stable isotopes and ancient DNA

6) Research group of Prof. Anna Maria Siani
a) monitoring of the microclimate and thermodynamics of the atmosphere are useful tools to increase knowledge of the main processes that affect cultural heritage, interactions with the environment and degradation mechanisms. Studying the microclimate is not just a collection of data and their description of what is happening, but the study of the complex interactions between air, building and objects. In this context, the physics of the atmosphere is configured as a very useful scientific discipline in solving the problems related to the diagnosis of cultural heritage and in the research underlying preventive conservation.
b) The study of the microclimate uses non-destructive methods in the study of the exchanges between environment and object. As part of her studies on microclimate, Prof. Siani conducted the numerous microclimatic campaigns and multivariate analysis of observations in environments confined to the aim not only of characterizing the microclimate but of understanding the interaction between artifact and environment. Modeling of heat and steam transport in building materials using the HMWall dynamic simulation model.

7) Research group of Prof. Loreto Rossi
a) Trophic networks and bioaccumulation
b) tracers and cartography of nitrogen pollutants in water bodies using stable isotopes.

8) Plant Physiology Group - Dept. of Biology and Biotechnology "Charles Darwin" (Prof. Bellincampi, Prof.ssa De Lorenzo, Prof. Ferrari, Dott.Vincenzo Lionetti, Dott.ssa Lucia Marti)
a) Plant resistance to diseases and its improvement through biotechnological approaches.
      a1. Study of enzymes and plant cell wall inhibitors involved in plant resistance against microbial pathogens.
The activity of this research is addressed to the study of enzymes of the pectic component of the plant cell wall and protein inhibitors to understand their role in plant resistance to necrotrophic fungal pathogens. Many of these pathogens produce significant damage to agricultural production and reduced food quality due to the production of dangerous mycotoxins that accumulate in edible plant products. In particular, we study the activity of pectin methylesterase (PME) and protein inhibitors (PMEI) induced during plant infection. Interdisciplinary and innovative approaches in cell biology, glycomics and functional genomics are used on model plants for understanding the functional role of these macromolecules. These studies are aimed at the identification of biochemical markers of cell walls useful for a selection of cultivars of agronomic interest improved in resistance to pathogens and for the improvement of food quality.
      a2. Study of the molecular mechanisms underlying plant-pathogen recognition and biotechnological applications in plant protection.
The research aims to understand how plants recognize "non-self" elements to activate defense mechanisms that can limit microbial infections. In particular, the mechanisms of perception, transduction and homeostasis of helicopters deriving from the vegetal wall (oligogalatturonids) and from the wall of fungi (chitin) are studied, as well as biotechnological approaches to engineer receptors of helicopters able to confer increased resistance to diseases, thus reducing use of pesticides.
b) Enhancement of waste biomass for energy production and high added value products from microalgae
The main objective of the research consists in the identification and development of technologies aimed at the production of biofuels and high added value products from unicellular algae grown in mixotrophic conditions and fed with sugars from waste biomass from agro-industrial productions (agricultural wastes, industrial wastes dairy farms etc.). In fact, an important limiting factor in the production of oil and high products (eg carotenoids) from microalgae in autotrophic crops is the need to guarantee an efficient collection of light by all cells, therefore requiring large surfaces, artificial lighting systems and / or efficient mixing systems. Using crops in hetero- or mixotrophy conditions can significantly reduce the costs associated with the industrial-scale use of algae. In particular, the research aims to identify and improve enzyme systems from phytopathogenic microorganisms for the saccharification of biomass in simple sugars and to study their use in algae growth in mixotrophic conditions. In parallel, the group studied how different structural components of the cell wall influence the conversion efficiency of vegetable biomass into simple sugars and how to intervene on these components, by traditional genetics and genetic engineering, to improve the use of biomass without negative effects on biomass production.
c) "Green" technologies for the enhancement of agro-industrial waste
The research activity is aimed at the characterization of oligosaccharidic products with properties of biopesticides / safeners, obtained from olive oil waste, for potential applications in agriculture to reduce economic damage caused by crop losses due to plant pathogens. An objective of these researches consists therefore in the isolation of organic residue (phenol free) of oil mills enriched in polysaccharides of the plant cell wall to produce fractions enriched in biologically active oligosaccharines with a phyto-protective action. The research activity includes the study of the physiological effect and the molecular action mechanism of potential oligosaccharins, in model control plants and treated with bacterial and fungal pathogens

9) Research group of prof. Federico Marini
The main activity of the group concerns the development and application of chemometric methods (mathematical-statistical tools for the processing of chemical data) to various problems. In this context, particular attention is paid to the possibility of coupling these chemometric techniques to spectroscopic analysis methods in order to develop analytical approaches that are as non-invasive, non-destructive, rapid and economic as possible and that do not require any matrix pretreatment in analysis, often resulting in solvent-free.
In the specific area of cultural heritage, for some years our research group has been trying to extend the approach described for the rapid and non-destructive characterization of finds of various kinds (for example, bone fragments, pigments, marbles).

10) Research group of Prof. Alfredo Miccheli
a) Evaluation by high-resolution NMR spectroscopy of the composition of by-products or processing waste for the identification of biologically active molecules and their recovery for agricultural or health purposes.
b) Evaluation by  high-resolution NMR spectroscopy of the composition of PHA polymers and of any impurities derived from the biosynthesis process and isolation from the digestion of city organic waste..

11) Research group of Prof. Silvia Canepari
a) Development of new analytical methodologies, fast and cheap enough to be applied to intensive monitoring campaigns, for the determination of selective tracers of particular sources of atmospheric particulate matter.
b) Optimization and validation of analytical methods applicable to biomonitoring studies with the use of animal and human biological matrices (insects, hair, breast milk, urine, serum).
c) Study of the spatio-temporal evolution of gaseous and particle primary and secondary atmospheric pollutants in urban, rural, remote and confined areas.
d) Study of pollution processes in indoor environments.
e) Evaluation of the relative contribution of the different sources to the concentration of particulate material in urban, rural, remote and confined areas, with particular reference to the contribution due to natural sources (marine aerosols, crustal components) and to the evaluation of inputs from industrial plants.

12) Research group of Prof. Mauro Majone (Mauro Majone, Marianna Villano, Francesco Valentino)
The research activity is aimed at the study and development of chemical and biological processes for environmental protection, in particular for the production of energy and / or chemicals from renewable resources, for the treatment of waste water and waste and for the rehabilitation of contaminated groundwater. In more detail:
a) Energy production from biomass, waste and waste water

      a.1) bioelectrochemical processes for the production of bio-fuels (biomethane and biohydrogen), potential applications for carbon dioxide fixation
      a.2) advanced anaerobic digestion processes for biogas production
b) Production of biodegradable polymers from biomass, waste and waste water, through mixed microbial cultures selected by non-stationary biological processes
c) Remediation of soils and groundwater using innovative in situ technologies (bioelectrochemical processes, slow release processes).