StaffAlessandro Vitale



+39 0223699431


Research area

Vitale Alessandro

Associate scientist


1971-76: Degree in Biology, Università degli studi di Milano. Mark: 110/110. Field OF ACTIVITY: Biochemistry.

Professional experience

2020-Now: CNR Senior Associate, Istituto di Biologia e Biotecnologia Agraria (CNR, Bio- Agricultural Sciences).

2017-Now: Member of the Science & Society group of the Italian Federation of Life Sciences (FISV)

2015-Oggi: Coordinator of the Communication Group of the Italian Society of Agricultural Genetics (SIGA).

2015: Co-author of the chapter on protein sorting and vesicular traffic in the new edition of the very popular university textbook “Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plants” (Buchanan, Gruissem, Jones Eds.)

2008: Winner of the Corresponding Membership Award of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

2002-2020: Lead Scientist, Istituto di Biologia e Biotecnologia Agraria (CNR, Bio- Agricultural Sciences). Field of activity: plant molecular and cell biology, plant biotechnology. Ranked 1st at the National selection for these positions in Agricultural Sciences.

1998: Winner of the “Assunta Baccarini-Melandri” Prize of the Italian Society of Plant Biology (SIBV)

1998-2006: Professor of Plant Biotechnology on annual contract, Università degli studi di Milano

1996-2001: Senior Scientist, Istituto di Biologia e Biotecnologia Agraria (CNR, Bio-Agricultural Sciences). Field of activity: plant molecular and cell biology.

1986-96: Staff Scientist, Istituto Biosintesi Vegetali – former denomination of IBBA –  (CNR, Bio-Agricultural Sciences). Field of activity: plant molecular and cell biology

1982-83: Visiting scientist (awarded a CNR fellowship) in the laboratory of Maarten J. Chrispeels, UCSD, La Jolla, CA, to study the biosynthesis, intracellular transport and processing of bean phytohemagglutinin. Field of activity: plant cell biology

1982-86: Researcher, Istituto Biosintesi Vegetali, CNR. Field of activity: plant biochemistry and cell biology.

Research interests

  • Molecular cell biology of plants
  • Study of protein synthesis and the biogenesis of intracellular compartments (especially the endoplasmic reticulum with its associated protein quality control mechanism, and vacuoles).
  • Mechanisms of accumulation of seed storage proteins (the major source of protein for human nutrition) and strategies to improve their nutritional value,

    such as immunoglobulins and potential vaccines.
  • The mechanisms of biogenesis and proteostasis of the plant endoplasmic reticulum and vacuoles. These subcellular compartments are part of a system termed the endomembrane system, which in any eukaryotic cell is composed of the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi apparatus, vacuoles (lysosomes in animal cells), the plasma membrane and endosomes. These compartments are functionally interconnected and host the secretory pathway, a metabolic pathway that takes care of the synthesis and correct distribution of proteins secreted out of the cell or belonging to each endomembrane compartment, collectively termed secretory proteins.
  • The evolutionary molecular events that have led to a change in the compartment of accumulation of major storage proteins during the appearance of cereals: from the vacuole, where storage proteins are stored in the vast majority of plants, to the endoplasmic reticulum. This use of the endoplasmic reticulum to store proteins seems a unique case in nature.

Projects in progress

Projects completed

sPATIALS3 - Improvement of agrifood productions and innovative technologies for a safer and more secure and sustainable nutrition
Start date: 01/02/2020   End date: 31/10/2022

Regione Lombardia

Milano, Lodi   Website

Francesca Sparvoli

Project duration:
01/02/2020 - 31/10/2022
Financing body:
Regione Lombardia
Project research leader:
Francesca Sparvoli
Milano, Lodi
Project website:

sPATIALS3 - Improvement of agrifood productions and innovative technologies for a safer and more secure and sustainable nutrition

sPATIALS3 is a technological and research hub involving 12 CNR Institutes belonging to 4 different Departments and 4 companies. Main objectives will be: obtainment of innovative food products improved for their nutritional and functional properties; provision and implementation of precision technologies to guarantee products quality, safety and traceability; development of innovative and eco-sustainable smart– and active-packaging to minimize and reuse wastes, where possible, and to increase food preservability; provision to consumers and producers of tools for results exploitation.


Search website