Phytoplankton and the environment

The group performs researches on growth, nutrient consumption, primary and secondary metabolites production in microalgae exposed to varying environmental parameters, in view of the comprehension of harmful bloom dynamics or in view of industrial applications (bioremediation, biofuel or bioactive substances production). The studies are performed either using cultured species which are isolated from the environment, starting from single cells and kept in culture, and which constitute the collection of marine, freshwater and cyanobacteria species of the lab present in the BiGeA UOS section of Ravenna, or through field study in which the algal community is periodically monitored.

A few phytoplankton species can determine anomalous blooms having negative effects on the ecosystem and/or on human health and economic activities due, for example, to toxin, mucilage or high biomass production. The studies of the group on environmental aspects of phytoplankton growth are aimed to increase the knowledge on growth dynamics, on the nutrient utilization pattern of these species and on the production of harmful molecules and of secondary metabolites playing a role in the regulation of intra- and interspecific relationships and allelopathy. Production patterns are related to environmental parameters variations (light, temperature, nutrients, salinity) and/or to the presence of pollutants (heavy metals, hydrocarbon, pesticides, etc.) or biotic factors (bacteria, community composition); the responses are evaluated in terms of stress effects on single species (e. g. through growth and photosynthetic efficiency inhibition, cell composition alterations) or as variation in terms of population composition and biodiversity.

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