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ferrante maria immacolataResearcher
Section EMI

Tel. +39 081 5833268
Fax: +39 081 7641355
e-mail: mariella.ferrante(at)szn.it
Skype: mariella.ferrante

Curriculum Vitae

Research interests

Plankton plays a fundamental role in the transfer of matter and energy and therefore in the functioning of marine ecosystems.
Signal transduction mechanisms are very well defined in multicellular organisms and unicellular model systems, very little is known for marine phytoplankton. Yet, understanding how cells sense and integrate environmental signals is fundamental to explain population dynamics, community interactions and ultimately ecosystem functioning. Diatoms, among phytoplanktonic organisms, are one of the most important and abundant groups.
We study the molecular changes occurring in diatom cells upon reception external stimuli, such as changes in marine turbulence, or chemical cues produced during sexual reproduction. To assess the response, we follow gene expression changes of cells exposed to the stimulus using RNA-seq, with the aim to define the major signalling pathways and physiological changes involved.
To conduct these studies, it is essential to expand the molecular, genetic and genomic resources available for diatoms. To this end, we are sequencing the genome of Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata and the transcriptome of several species, and have optimized a technique to obtain genetically engineered strains.
The availability of such tools, in combination with the definition of mechanisms of communication and molecular pathways, will also have an impact on the possibility to exploit this promising group of microalgae in the field of biotechnology. Thus, the research objectives of the laboratory are: i. study of signal perception and response in diatoms, ii. the Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata genome project, iii. the development of diatom genetic resources.

Selected Publications

Amato A, Dell’Aquila G, Musacchia F, Annunziata R, Ugarte A, Maillet N, Carbone A, Ribera d’Alcalà M, Sanges R, Iudicone D, Ferrante MI. Marine diatoms change their gene expression profile when exposed to microscale turbulence under nutrient replete conditions. Scientific Reports. 2017. Accepted.

Basu S, Patil S, Mapleson D, Russo MT, Vitale L, Fevola C, Maumus F, Casotti R, Mock T, Caccamo M, Montresor M, Sanges R, Ferrante MI. Finding a partner in the ocean: molecular and evolutionary bases of the response to sexual cues in a planktonic diatom. New Phytologist. 2017 doi: 10.1111/nph.14557

Mock T, Otillar RP, Strauss J, McMullan M, Paajanen P, Schmutz J, Salamov A, Sanges R, Toseland A, Ward BJ, Allen AE, Dupont CL, Frickenhaus S, Maumus F, Veluchamy A, Wu T, Barry KW, Falciatore A, Ferrante MI, Fortunato AE, Glöckner G, Gruber A, Hipkin R, Janech MG, Kroth PG, Leese F, Lindquist EA, Lyon BR, Martin J, Mayer C, Parker M, Quesneville H, Raymond JA, Uhlig C, Valas RE, Valentin KU, Worden AZ, Armbrust EV, Clark MD, Bowler C, Green BR, Moulton V, van Oosterhout C, Grigoriev IV. Evolutionary genomics of the cold-adapted diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus. Nature. 2017. 541:536–540. doi: 10.1038/nature20803

Montresor M, Vitale L, D’Alelio D, Ferrante MI. Sex in marine planktonic diatoms: insights and challenges. Perspective in Phycology 2016; vol. 3, p. 61-75, doi: 10.1127/pip/2016/0045

Patil S, Moeys S, von Dassow P, Huysman MJJ, Mapleson D, De Veylder L, Sanges R, Vyverman W, Montresor M, Ferrante MI. Identification of the meiotic toolkit in diatoms and exploration of meiosis-specific SPO11 and RAD51 homologs in the sexual species Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata and Seminavis robusta. BMC Genomics. 2015;16:930. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-1983-5

Di Dato V, Musacchia F, Petrosino G, Patil S, Montresor M, Sanges R, Ferrante MI. Transcriptome sequencing of three Pseudo-nitzschia species reveals comparable gene sets and the presence of Nitric Oxide Synthase genes in diatoms. Scientific Reports. 2015;5:12329. doi: 10.1038/srep12329

Russo MT, Annunziata R, Sanges R, Ferrante MI, Falciatore A. The upstream regulatory sequence of the light harvesting complex Lhcf2 gene of the marine diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum enhances transcription in an orientation- and distance-independent fashion. Marine Genomics. 2015. doi: 10.1016/j.margen.2015.06.010

Sabatino V, Russo MT, Patil S, d’Ippolito G, Fontana A, Ferrante MI. Establishment of Genetic Transformation in the Sexually Reproducing Diatoms Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata and Pseudo-nitzschia arenysensis and Inheritance of the Transgene. Marine Biotechnology. 2015; 1–11. doi:10.1007/s10126-015-9633-0

Adelfi MG, Borra M, Sanges R, Montresor M, Fontana A, Ferrante MI. Selection and validation of reference genes for qPCR analysis in the pennate diatoms Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata and P. arenysensis. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 2014;451: 74–81. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2013.11.003

Ferrante MI, Zullo A, Barra A, Bimonte S, Messaddeq N, Studer M, Dolle P, Franco B. Oral-facial-digital type I protein is required for primary cilia formation and left-right axis specification. Nature Genetics. 2006;38: 112–117. doi:10.1038/ng1684

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