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ferrante maria immacolataSenior Researcher
Integrative Marine Ecology Department

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 sequenced the genome of Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata (http://bioinfo.szn.it/pmultistriata/) and the transcriptome of several species, and have optimized different techniques to obtain genetically engineered strains. We are contributing to genome sequencing projects for other diatoms.
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. diatom genome projects, iii. the development of diatom genetic resources.

Selected Publications

- Monia Teresa Russo*, Maria Valeria Ruggiero, Francesco Manfellotto, Victoria Scriven, Lisa Campbell, Marina Montresor* and Maria Immacolata Ferrante*. New alleles in the mating type determination region of West Atlantic strains of Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata. Harmful Algae 103, 101995. 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2021.101995

- Rossella Annunziata*, Cecilia Balestra, Pina Marotta, Antonella Ruggiero, Francesco Manfellotto, Giovanna Benvenuto, Elio Biffali, Maria Immacolata Ferrante*. An optimised method for intact nuclei isolation from diatoms. 2021 Jan 18;11(1):1681. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-81238-z

- F. Manfellotto*, G.R. Stella, A. Falciatore, C. Brunet, M.I. Ferrante*. Engineering the Unicellular Alga Phaeodactylum tricornutum for Enhancing Carotenoid Production. Antioxidants 2020, 9 (8), 757. doi:10.3390/antiox9080757

- Cristina Maria Osuna-Cruz, Gust Bilcke, Emmelien Vancaester, Sam De Decker, Nicole Poulsen, Petra Bulankova, Bram Verhelst, Sien Audoor, Darja Stojanovova, Aikaterini Pargana, Monia Russo, Frederike Stock, Emilio Cirri, Georg Pohnert, Per Winge, Atle Bones, Gwenael Piganeu, Maria Immacolata Ferrante, Thomas Mock, Lieven Sterck, Koen Sabbe, Lieven De Veylder, Wim Vyverman and Klaas Vandepoele. The Seminavis robusta genome provides insights into the evolutionary adaptations of benthic diatoms. Nature Communications. 11:3320, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17191-8

- Greta Busseni, Fabio Rocha Jimenez Vieira,Alberto Amato, Eric Pelletier, Juan J. Pierella Karlusich, Maria I. Ferrante, Patrick Wincker, Alessandra Rogato, Chris Bowler, Remo Sanges, Luigi Maiorano, Maurizio Chiurazzi, Maurizio Ribera d’Alcalà, Luigi Caputi, Daniele Iudicone. Meta-omics reveals genetic flexibility of diatom nitrogen transporters in response to environmental changes. 2019. Molecular Biology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msz157/5525704

- Lauritano C, Ferrante MI*, Rogato A*. Marine Natural Products from Microalgae: An -Omics Overview. Marine Drugs. 2019; 17(5):269. DOI: 10.3390/md17050269. *Corresponding authors.

- Russo MT, Vitale L, Entrambasaguas L, Anestis K, Fattorini N, Romano F, Minucci C, De Luca P, Biffali E, Vyverman W, Sanges R, Montresor M, Ferrante MI. MRP3 is a sex determining gene in the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia multistriata. Nature Communications 2018, 9:5050. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-0749.

- Amato A, Sabatino V, Nylund GM, Bergkvist J, Basu S, Andersson MX, Sanges R, Godhe A, Kiørboe T, Selander E, Ferrante MI. Grazer-induced transcriptomic and metabolomic response of the chain-forming diatom Skeletonema marinoi. The ISME Journal, 12, 1594–1604, 2018. DOI:10.1038/s41396-018-0094-0

- 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

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