Università degli Studi di Milano (UMIL)

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The University of Milan is one of the major Italian Universities and member of the League of European Research Universities, LERU. UMIL operates at the Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Alimentari e Microbiologiche (DiSTAM), which is one of the largest departments of the University of Milan, with more than 54 permanent professors and researcher staff, 32 technicians and 11 administrative employees Since 2007 DiSTAM moved to new headquarters located in a new building conceived following modern work organization concepts. DiSTAM was founded in 1985 in response to the increasing demand for scientific support and educational programs from the Italian industry in the sectors of environmental biotechnology and food production. The expertise covers many aspects related to applied environmental microbiology and biotechnology and food science. DiSTAM organizes PhD and Master training courses on Environmental Protection, Biological Control and Food Biotechnology, to implement education and research for environmental protection.


Contact person: Daniele Daffonchio (daniele.daffonchio@unimi.it)

Website: www.unimi.it


Role of UMIL in MaCuMBA:

UMIL will contribute to the research activities foreseen in MaCuMBA WPs 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. UMIL will use new approaches for cultivating (WP2) and improve the cultivation efficiency of already cultivated microbes (WP3) from deep hypersaline anoxic basins (DHABs). UMIL will establish and maintain a DHABs isolate collection (WP4), will assess the DHABs microbiome diversity by a metagenomic approach (WP6) and will evaluate biotechnological properties of the isolated strains and identify transformable strains from DHABs (WP7).


Profile of staff engaged in the project:

Daniele Daffonchio

Prof. Daniele Daffonchio is responsible for the UMIL team, composed by 14 scientists. He has been working for many years in the field of environmental microbial ecology and biotechnology. He focuses on the study of microbial communities from different environments including deep sea hypersaline lakes and marine coastal lagoons, cold and hot deserts, plants and rhizosphere, and insect vectors of human and plant diseases. He discovered new deep sea microbial assemblages in the DHABs and the mode they contribute to the system functioning and new microbes and genes involved in the reductive dechlorination of chlorinated solvents. As mentioned above Daffonchio participated and is coordinating several EU projects and coordinates a Geoscope project for the genome sequencing of two extremophile bacteria from arid environments. The research capacity of the team is based on a fully equipped molecular microbial ecology platform, on expertise in microbial genetics and physiology and on industrial microbiology facilities including fermenters, reactors and an analytical chemistry platform with liquid and gas chromatographs.
Sara Borin Prof. Sara Borin is associated professor of Agriculture Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University of Milan. She is studying microbial ecology in extreme environments, including extreme anthropically polluted ones, how bacterial communities contribute to ecosystem functioning and how they can be exploited in sustainable environmental biotechnologies. Her current research is mainly on the FP7 projects: MACUMBA; KILL*SPILL, integrated biotechnological solutions for combating marine oil spills; ULIXES, approaches towards bioremediation of the Mediterranean Sea by exploring its microbial diversity; BIODESERT, biotechnology from desert microbial extremophiles for supporting agriculture research potential in Tunisia and Southern Europe.
Francesco Molinari Francesco Molinari studied chemistry as undergraduate student at the University of Milano where he also was a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Cesare Gennari working on supramolecular and stereoselective chemistry. He was post-doc student in Lisbon with Prof. Joaquim Cabral working on membrane bioreactors and from 1992 Lecturer at the University of Milano; from 2000 he is Associate Professor at the Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences (DeFENS) of the University of Milano. He is co-author of more than 90 papers on international journals and 1 world and 4 european patents. His main research interests are microbial and enzymatic biotransformations in the food, pharma and environmental fields. The research capacity of the team is based on a fully equipped platform for fermentations and biocatalysis, including fermenters, reactors and an analytical chemistry platform with liquid and gas chromatographs.
Francesca Mapelli Francesca Mapelli is a Post Doc researcher specialized in extreme ecosystems ecology, with a focus on microbe-plant and microbe-mineral interactions. Her current research regards the description of bacterial function and diversity in marine environments and extreme, pristine and polluted, environments. Her research is performed under the umbrella of the EU FP7 projects: MACUMBA; KILLSPILL, integrated biotechnological solutions for combating marine oil spills.
 Elena Crotti Elena Crotti is a research assistant at the University of Milan, specialized in microbial ecology and biotechnology. Her current research is performed under the umbrella of the EU FP7 project MACUMBA. Other research topics regard the study and biotechnological applications of microbial associations between bacteria and insects.
Marco Fusi Marco Fusi is a post doctoral fellow hired in 2012 to work with the MaCuMBA project at the University of Milan, Italy. The aim of his work within the MaCuMBA project is to identify the key bacterial species in the tissues of crabs living in mangrove ecosystems using cultivation-independent methods, and to try to bring them into culture by designing culturing media that mimic the ecophysiological and chemical conditions these organisms experience in their natural environment.
 Diego Romano Diego Romano is Lecturer at the Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences (DeFENS) of the University of Milan. His current research is focused on the isolation, characterization and application of new microbial enzymes in industrially relevant and sustainable bioprocesses in agricultural, pharmaceutical and fine-chemical fields.

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