Research

BIOTEC: Plant and industrial biotechnologies

The research in this field aims at improving agro-food production and its environmental sustainability. Research activities are conducted through the use of: genetic resources to increase food quality, the resistance of plants to abiotic stress, the production of biomolecules and environmental recovery; sequencing and bioinformatics to identify and characterize genes involved in cellular pathways that control nitrogen uptake, abiotic resistance of plants, production of secondary metabolites and interactions between microorganisms and plants; biochemical and molecular approaches to improve molecules important in nutritional/health aspects and green chemistry.

Projects

In progress

MITICAL - Improvement of the cultivation and production of industrial hemp in Lombardy through innovative cultivation techniques
Start date: 01/07/2020   End date: 30/06/2023

Regione Lombardia

Milano, Lodi, Roma
Monica Mattana

Project duration:
01/07/2020 - 30/06/2023
Financing Body:
Regione Lombardia
Project research leader:
Monica Mattana
Headquarters:
Milano, Lodi, Roma

MITICAL - Improvement of the cultivation and production of industrial hemp in Lombardy through innovative cultivation techniques


The MITICAL project aims to deepen knowlege on industrial hemp culture, focusing on the final use of two main products: seeds and flowers. The project will be based on the following activities:

  • analysis of 4 hemp varieties, two monoecius and two dioecious, cultivated in two different pedoclimaticzones in Lombardy region,
  • evaluation of the agronomic performances after different growing condition: control, biostimulant treatment, elicitor treatment,
  • seeds:evaluation of nutritional quality by measuring protein and oil content, fatty acid profile and antinutritional compound content,
  • flowers: evaluation of secondary metabolites content (CBD, THC,) and other polyphenols,
  • study of transcriptome: correlation analysis between gene expression and phenotype/metabolite, identification of allelic polymorphism (SNP) and coexpression network,
  • metagenomic analysis of soil: characterization of fungi, bacteria, metazoa, before and after hemp cultivation.

The project will be hold with the collaboration of agrofarms belonging to the two lombard agriculture districts and the results obtained on seeds will be viable for feed and food industries whereas those on flowers for pharma and cosmetic sector.

SMART-BREED - Innovative molecular technologies for the adaptation of horticultural species to climate change through precision breeding
Start date: 22/07/2021   End date: 21/07/2023

Regione Lazio - contribution of € 150.000

Roma
Giovanna Frugis

Project duration:
22/07/2021 - 21/07/2023
Financing Body:
Regione Lazio - contribution of € 150.000
Project research leader:
Giovanna Frugis
Headquarters:
Roma

SMART-BREED - Innovative molecular technologies for the adaptation of horticultural species to climate change through precision breeding


The project aims to develop innovative molecular technologies to study the effects of genetic variability and use this information to accelerate the breeding of new resilient varieties that maintain their productive and typical characteristics in variable and extreme environmental conditions. Since genes encoding transcription factors (TFs) are the main targets on which the processes of adaptation of the genotype to the environment naturally act, the project will focus, as a “proof of concept”, on transcription factors with a proven role in the response of shade avoidance and in the flowering induction response.

Aims. To innovate the traditional agricultural sector through the use of advanced technologies that allow the preservation and valorization of the agricultural biodiversity.

Results. Development of innovative molecular tools for the genetic improvement and adaptation of vegetable species belonging to the Brassicaceae, Asteraceae and Solanaceae families through precision breeding and biotechnology.

Partnership: CNR, Istituto di Biologia e Patologia Molecolari (CNR-IBPM);  CREA, Centro di Ricerca Genomica e Bioinformatica (CREA-GB), Unit of Rome.

Completed

E-crops - Tecnologie per l’Agricoltura Digitale Sostenibile
Start date: 01/04/2018   End date: 30/09/2021

MIUR

Milano
Aldo Ceriotti

Project duration:
01/04/2018 - 30/09/2021
Financing Body:
MIUR
Project research leader:
Aldo Ceriotti
Headquarters:
Milano

E-crops - Tecnologie per l’Agricoltura Digitale Sostenibile


E-crops intende contribuire allo sviluppo ed alla diffusione dell’Agricoltura 4.0 nel Mezzogiorno, sviluppando tecnologie e metodologie innovative per gestire le colture ed i rischi a cui sono esposte; inserendo le nuove tecnologie nei tessuti produttivi di filiera, attraverso una serie di applicazioni pilota in grado di monitorare e quindi gestire i processi in funzione degli obiettivi aziendali. Verranno sviluppati strumenti di supporto decisionale, tramite la stretta interazione tra esigenze aziendali e metodologie di monitoraggio ed analisi, che permettano di gestire la variabilità spaziale di campo sia per aumentare la qualità del prodotto finale (su filiere ad alto valore aggiunto), sia per l’ottimizzazione gestionale in chiave di sostenibilità (su filiere industriali). E-crops impiegherà una infrastruttura per la fenotipizzazione HTP, eccellenza del Sud e unica in Italia, allo scopo di costruire rappresentazioni digitali delle colture in ambiente controllato che permettano di aumentare il livello di conoscenza ottenibile con tecniche di rilievo non invasivo. Le ricadute di mercato ed occupazionali sono triplici: nuovi mercati per produttori di tecnologie; aumento di competitività e redditività associato ad inserimenti in organico di nuove figure professionali; opportunità per la nascita di start-up di congiunzione tra tecnologia ed agricoltura.

CYAO-CYAnobacteria platform Optimised for bioproduction
Start date: 01/04/2017   End date: 31/03/2021

Fondazione Cariplo

Milano   Sito web

Anna Paola Casazza

Project duration:
01/04/2017 - 31/03/2021
Financing Body:
Fondazione Cariplo
Project research leader:
Anna Paola Casazza
Headquarters:
Milano
Website :
Sito web

CYAO-CYAnobacteria platform Optimised for bioproduction


The development of economically and environmentally sustainable strategies for the production of renewable fuels and chemical supplies is perceived as one of the most burning issues in modern society. In particular, the generation of bioproducts from renewable sources having high associated quality value is a core task of bioeconomy. The principal aims of the CYAO project are:

– the development of cyanobacterial strains having improved growth yield and biomass accumulation by the engineering of their light-harvesting capacity;

– the development of cyanobacterial strains producing and accumulating high levels of the antioxidant carotenoid astaxanthin (Asx);

– the evaluation of the feasibility of rainbow trout aquaculture in which the bioproduct Asx, extracted from the engineered cyanobacterial strains, is used as feed supplement.

 

Duck-Tech - Development of an integrated and sustainable system to produce bio-product: recycling of wastewater from ofmsw anaerobic digestion
Start date: 02/05/2015   End date: 30/04/2018

Fondazione Cariplo

Milano, Lodi   Sito web

Bianca Castiglioni

Project duration:
02/05/2015 - 30/04/2018
Financing Body:
Fondazione Cariplo
Project research leader:
Bianca Castiglioni
Headquarters:
Milano, Lodi
Website :
Sito web

Duck-Tech - Development of an integrated and sustainable system to produce bio-product: recycling of wastewater from ofmsw anaerobic digestion


The purpose of the project is to develop an integrated biological system to purify wastewater originated by anaerobic digestion of OFSMW, based on duckweed ability to tolerate high nitrogen and phosphorous concentration.

The project is proposing to develop a sustainable and completely natural system capable of achieving two objectives at the same time:

– a biological wastewater treatment;

– the transformation of some pollutants in raw materials (starch and fatty acids) that can be used in food and biochemical industries , replacing products obtained from agriculture or hydrocarbons.

In addition we would like to make a contribution to the understanding of microbiome degrading in the rhizosphere of aquatic plants used in the system, highlighting its effects on urban organic waste purification and more broadly on microbial water safety.

BOBCAt - Biotechnologies for sustainable production of bio-based commodities and specialty products in a cardoon-based biorefinery
Start date: 15/04/2019   End date: 14/04/2021

Fondazione Cariplo

Milano
Francesca Sparvoli

Project duration:
15/04/2019 - 14/04/2021
Financing Body:
Fondazione Cariplo
Project research leader:
Francesca Sparvoli
Headquarters:
Milano

BOBCAt - Biotechnologies for sustainable production of bio-based commodities and specialty products in a cardoon-based biorefinery


Aim of the project is the optimization of the use of industrial by-products and wastewaters as growth substrates for plant cell cultures and the optimization of their growth in economically and environmentally sustainable conditions to substantiate the possibility to build a cardoon-based cell biofactory in line with the principles of Circular Economy. Biotechnological approaches, through the RNAi strategy and/or the emerging technique of “genome editing”, on seed/leaf derived calli will be directed to increase monounsaturated fatty acids, while modifying lignin composition for accumulation of different phenolic acids as well as higher digestibility and availability of the cellulose fraction to enzymatic degradation. Furthermore, economic and environmental analysis of the production model of cardoon cells will be performed.

CAMFEED - Improving meat and eggs quality using low-glucosinolate Camelina sativa meal as poultry feed
Start date: 01/03/2016   End date: 02/02/2019

Fondazione Cariplo

Milano   Sito web

Incoronata Galasso

Project duration:
01/03/2016 - 02/02/2019
Financing Body:
Fondazione Cariplo
Project research leader:
Incoronata Galasso
Headquarters:
Milano
Website :
Sito web

CAMFEED - Improving meat and eggs quality using low-glucosinolate Camelina sativa meal as poultry feed


The aim of CAMFEED project is to use up to 20% of low-glucosinolate (GSL) seedcake, of the sustainable crop camelina (Camelina sativa), in the diet of broilers and laying hens in order to obtain meat and eggs with a higher content of α-linolenic acid (18:3n-3, ALA) and antioxidant compounds without affecting the eggs and meat production and the animal health and welfare.

VELICA - From ancient material crops and products for the future
Start date: 01/01/2011   End date: 31/12/2013

Regione Lombardia

Milano
Incoronata Galasso

Project duration:
01/01/2011 - 31/12/2013
Financing Body:
Regione Lombardia
Project research leader:
Incoronata Galasso
Headquarters:
Milano

VELICA - From ancient material crops and products for the future


The project aims to study the possible re-introduction of traditional crops on the Lombardia territory such as hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) and flax (Linum usitatissimum L.), making their cultivation profitable again through the use of all the bioproducts obtainable from the various parts of the plant, eg: oil extracted from seeds, fiber, proteins, metabolites. In addition, the project also plans to enhance all the residues of the various transformations of hemp and flax, creating a range of bioproducts of considerable interests.

BRIC - Innovative approaches to biosafety for the protection of human health and the environment
Start date: 15/11/2019   End date: 14/11/2021

INAIL

Milano, Lodi
Aldo Luperini

Project duration:
15/11/2019 - 14/11/2021
Financing Body:
INAIL
Project research leader:
Aldo Luperini
Headquarters:
Milano, Lodi

BRIC - Innovative approaches to biosafety for the protection of human health and the environment


The extreme accessibility of Genetically Modified MicroOrganisms and the latency period, sometimes of years, with which any adverse effects may emerge, increases the risk that their use may occur without adequate awareness of the potential risks associated. It is therefore necessary to provide operators with an adequate technical preparation, as well as to investigate and leverage on the unconscious bias that predisposes an operator to act with timing and professionalism on biosafety issues.

With this project we intend to inform, educate, obtain feedback and carry out a targeted training for different roles; motivate – so that each person is aware of his part in biosafety – and create a network between operators whose laboratories use advanced biotechnology methods.

It will also be identified a sample of trainees to deepen, through the tools of neuro marketing (EEG, measurement of pupil dilation, etc..), the unconscious forms that give substance to the decision-making processes acted in the field of biosafety. The information collected will become an asset and will be used to update the communication styles that will be used in the future.

FP7-SME BIOBOTTLE - Biodegradable solutions for packaging of liquid dairy products
Start date: 01/05/2014   End date: 30/04/2016

Unione Europea

Pisa   Sito web

Cristiana Sbrana

Project duration:
01/05/2014 - 30/04/2016
Financing Body:
Unione Europea
Project research leader:
Cristiana Sbrana
Headquarters:
Pisa
Website :
Sito web

FP7-SME BIOBOTTLE - Biodegradable solutions for packaging of liquid dairy products


Poor thermal resistance of biodegradable materials currently available on the market is a major drawback for the wide range of applications of these materials. The Biobottle project developed innovative plastic bottles and bags manufactured in biodegradable materials that fulfil the requirements for packaging of different types of dairy products. The main challenge in this project was to modify the chemical structure of the biodegradable materials to increase thermal resistance without decreasing their mechanical resistance and their biodegradability properties. Reactive extrusion can be used to overcome these limitations as the material can become more resistant to creep and abrasion, among other properties. It was developed a material that is thermally and mechanically resistant, shows better properties than HDPE or PET, and is harmless after biodegradation. The developed bottles and bags, intended for packaging dairy products, are stable during pasteurisation and can withstand form-filling sealing for flexible pouches.

IBISBA 1.0 – Design Phase. Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Synthetic Biology Accelerator
Start date: 01/12/2017   End date: 30/06/2021

Unione Europea

Milano, Lodi   Sito web

Emanuela Pedrazzini

Project duration:
01/12/2017 - 30/06/2021
Financing Body:
Unione Europea
Project research leader:
Emanuela Pedrazzini
Headquarters:
Milano, Lodi
Website :
Sito web

IBISBA 1.0 – Design Phase. Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Synthetic Biology Accelerator


IBISBA 1.0 provides a coordinated network of research facilities to promote R&D in bioprocess development and support the bioeconomy. The facilities cover a wide range of experimental and in silico operations and disciplines, and together represent an R&D continuum to build quality biomanufacturing processes for industrialisation. IBISBA 1.0 aims at establishing an interoperable network of infrastructures capable of proposing R&D services to industrial biotechnology professionals. In this respect, IBISBA 1.0 has launched a Transnational Access (TNA) programme, which is conducted in the framework of open calls for projects.

PHARMAPLANT - Recombinant Pharmaceuticals from Plants for Human Health
Start date: 01/02/2004   End date: 30/01/2009

FP6-LIFESCIHEALTH

Milano   Sito web

Emanuela Pedrazzini

Project duration:
01/02/2004 - 30/01/2009
Financing Body:
FP6-LIFESCIHEALTH
Project research leader:
Emanuela Pedrazzini
Headquarters:
Milano
Website :
Sito web

PHARMAPLANT - Recombinant Pharmaceuticals from Plants for Human Health


Plants are attractive vehicles for the expression of recombinant pharmaceutical proteins as they are inexpensive and versatile systems, amenable to rapid and economical scale-up. Public opinion in Europe is generally negative towards GM plants, which has led to the loss of many SMEs and commercial development from the Union. However, the use of GM plants for medicines and vaccines rates very highly in terms of public acceptance. With this proposal, our primary aim is to build on previous proof-of-concept studies to develop pharmaceutical products through to clinical trials. The use of GM pharmaceuticals has precedents, such as human insulin and hepatitis B vaccine, but plant-derived materials used in humans has not been formally addressed within the EU. A major outcome will be to define the regulatory requirements through a process of engagement and consultation with all relevant regulatory bodies (involved in GM plants as well as new pharmaceuticals), in order to move through clinical trials and gain permission for the use of plant derived pharmaceuticals in practice. Monoclonal antibodies will be the first generation of molecules to be developed for Phase I clinical evaluation, and we include 2 neutralising antibodies each for HIV and rabies. The proposal also includes a limited range of other targets, against HIV, TB and diabetes, and for some of these, new expression strategies will need to be developed. They represent the second-generation molecules, which will feed the development pipeline for SMEs in Europe, beyond the lifetime of the project. In each case, plant-based systems offer a real advantage, if not the only option for production on a scale relevant to the needs for that molecule. Alongside our principle aim of developing plant derived recombinant pharmaceuticals, we recognise the need to put in place comprehensive risk assessments based on health and environmental impacts, and to work with EU regulatory authorities
Identification of a rapid test for anti-nutritional factors in vegetable protein flours
Start date: 08/05/2019   End date: 21/09/2019

Fa.Ma.Vit. S.p.A.

Milano
Emanuela Pedrazzini

Project duration:
08/05/2019 - 21/09/2019
Financing Body:
Fa.Ma.Vit. S.p.A.
Project research leader:
Emanuela Pedrazzini
Headquarters:
Milano

Identification of a rapid test for anti-nutritional factors in vegetable protein flours


The project includes the development of a rapid assay for the determination of trypsin inhibitors in different soybean matrices (extracted soybean, extruded soybean, fermented concentrated protein soybean); the development of a rapid assay for the determination of allergens in different soya matrices; the molecular characterization of 3 soya matrices (extracted soy flour, extruded soy, fermented protein soy).

InFlaMe - Improvement of secondary metabolites production for human health by flax cell in vitro technology
Start date: 01/09/2017   End date: 30/06/2021

Fondazione Cariplo

Milano   Sito web

Monica Mattana

Project duration:
01/09/2017 - 30/06/2021
Financing Body:
Fondazione Cariplo
Project research leader:
Monica Mattana
Headquarters:
Milano
Website :
Sito web

InFlaMe - Improvement of secondary metabolites production for human health by flax cell in vitro technology


The aim of the InFlaMe project is to optimize the production of secondary metabolites of pharmacological/nutraceutical interest, the lignans which are produced at low concentration by flax plants as defense compounds against herbivores and microrganisms. To this purpose a biotechnological approach will be used starting from the production of different plant tissue cultures obtained from several diverse flax species. The obtained cultures will be induced to an increased production of lignans through the use of specific elicitors and through metabolic engineering.

In the long term this technology will provide a large scale production of high added value compounds currently limited by the low potential of producer species.

 

Specialization Course on Bioeconomy of the Organic Fraction from Waste and other Biomasses
Start date: 01/01/2021   End date: 31/12/2021

Aziende associate al Comitato Italiano Compostatori

Milano   Sito web



Project duration:
01/01/2021 - 31/12/2021
Financing Body:
Aziende associate al Comitato Italiano Compostatori
Project research leader:

Headquarters:
Milano
Website :
Sito web

Specialization Course on Bioeconomy of the Organic Fraction from Waste and other Biomasses


The Specialization Course on Bioeconomy of the Organic Fraction from Waste and other Biomasses, now at its 11th edition, aims at preparing highly qualified professionals capable to will to:

– manage dedicated crops, by-products and the organic fraction from urban and industrial waste as renewable sources for energy and green chemistry production;

– develop energy efficiency plans based on reused production scraps and by-products;

The Course is thought to support companies in the transition towards the Bioeconomy, a sector showing today for a turnover of 330 billion euros. (data obtained from the Italian Strategy for the Bioeconomy 2020).

The Course main feature is to deal with innovative systems for the reuse of waste and production of valuable by-products.

The Course program provides combined technical and scientific knowledge together with application experience, visits to bioenergy production plants, case studies and internships in companies working in this sector.

Istituto

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