Period: 4/2018 - 4/2020
Project title: Future Antarctic microbial communities: predicting the impact of global climate changes on aquatic microbial communities through guided evolution and multi-omics integration.
Funding agency: PNRA (Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide) - PNRA16_00246
Budget: 76800 €
Topic: The distribution and function of Antarctic microorganisms are of crucial importance for the flow of matter in the Earth's biogeochemical cycles. The effects of microbial communities on the carbon and nitrogen cycles are particularly important for producing and balancing climate gases such as CO2, CH4, or N2O. This precious balance is put at risk by global climate changes, the most serious threat for the entire microbial ecosystem and, more in general, for the major biogeochemical cycles. Indeed, global change is altering species distributions and thus interactions among organisms, leading to altered biodiversity and impaired functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Here we propose a guided evolution-based approach to experimentally simulate changes in environmental parameters (e.g. temperature, CO2 concentration, pH, pollutants concentration etc.) and investigate at different cellular levels (i.e. gene expression, genomic variants, and metabolism) the effect of such variations on Antarctic microbes. More specifically, we will combine experimental evolution, -omics data and mathematical metabolic modelling to provide an outlook on the structure and functioning of the future Antarctic microbial representatives, evaluating the impact of projected changes in some key environmental chemico-physical parameters (and/or combination thereof) and describing the molecular, evolutionary and ecological strategies that members of such community may adopt to face such conditions. Long term growth experiments will be set up and an incremental perturbation to chemico-physical parameters will be applied to microbes.
Period: 6/2014 - 6/2016
Project title: Exploiting Antarctica biotechnological potential: metabolic modelling for optimization of bioactive molecules biosynthesis from Antarctic bacteria
Funding agency: PNRA (Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide) - 2013/B4.02
Budget: 90000 €
Topic: The study of microbes inhabiting extreme environments (Antarctica) offers an irreplaceable resource for the elucidation of antagonistic relationships inside complex ecological niches and for the individuation of metabolic traits of valuable biotechnological potential. Biosynthesis of antibiotics and other interesting bioactive compounds (e.g. antitumor molecules) has been documented for bacterial strains isolated from Antarctica. Our project aims at exploiting the huge biotechnological potential of bioactive molecules obtained from Antarctic strains. Indeed the biosynthesis of these compounds in vivo is often sub-optimal and is largely dependent on growth conditions, such as temperature and medium composition. Accordingly, methods for bioactive compounds biosynthesis optimization are highly needed since they may bridge microbiological knowledge to large scale, industrial production of clinically and/or technological compounds. To this purpose, we will integrate “-omics” data with methodologies for modeling biological systems and we will implement computational and statistical models to elucidate the biosynthetic circuits responsible for the production of bioactive molecules and to gain a complete knowledge on the metabolisms of Antarctic strains for their possible biotechnological use.
Publications supported by this grant: