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palumbo annaSenior Scientist
Biology and Evolution of Marine Organisms Department

Tel. +39 081 5833293 - +39 081 5833276
Fax: +39 081 7641355
e-mail: anna.palumbo(at)szn.it
Skype: anna.palumbo2

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Research interests

Response of marine organisms to environmental factors
Nowadays an emerging challenge is to investigate how marine organisms are responding and may adapt to the increasing pressure exerted by climatic changes and human activities. The effects of some environmental conditions (acidification, toxic bloom, contaminants such as microplastics) are examined on various marine organisms at different life phases by laboratory or field experiments. Oxidative and nitrosative parameters are followed, including redox state determination, antioxidant enzyme activities, production of antioxidant molecules, stress gene expression, formation of nitric oxide and its signaling at gene and protein level. The role of nitric oxide as mediator of the response of marine organisms to environmental conditions is also investigated.

Biotechnological potential of marine organisms
The marine environment, characterized by a high biodiversity of species, represents a great potential source of bioactive molecules with potential biotechnological applications. Among these, we focus the attention on ovothiol, a powerful antioxidant which is produced by sea urchin eggs as protective mechanism from the high oxidative burst at fertilization. Ovothiol has been shown to be a promising pharmacological compound, being active on cancer cells and as neuroprotectant. The enzyme that catalyzes ovothiol biosynthesis is encoded in several genomes of marine organisms, including diatoms. Through a multidisciplinary approach, spanning from developmental biology to algal physiology, the biological activities of ovothiol are investigated in sea urchin and diatoms. The ability of diatoms to produce ovothiol is examined in laboratory under different environmental conditions and growth phases to provide an eco-sustainable source necessary for applied research.

Selected Publications

Migliaccio O, Pinsino A, Maffioli E, Smith AM, Agnisola C, Matranga V, Nonnis S, Tedeschi G, Byrne M, Gambi MC, Palumbo A. 2019. Living in future ocean acidification, physiological adaptive responses of the immune system of sea urchins resident at a CO2 vent system. Science of The Total Environment 672: 938-950. ttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.005.

Kumar A, AbdElgawad H, Castellano I, Selim S, Beemster GTS, Asard H, Buia MC, Palumbo A. 2018. Effects of ocean acidification on the levels of primary and secondary metabolites in the brown macroalga Sargassum vulgare at different time scales. Science of the Total Environment 643: 946-956. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.06.176.

Brancaccio M, D’Argenio G, Lembo V, Palumbo A, Castellano I. 2018. Antifibrotic Effect of Marine Ovothiol in an In Vivo Model of Liver Fibrosis. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2018: 5045734, https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/5045734.

Castellano I, Migliaccio O, Ferraro G, Maffioli E, Marasco D, Merlino A, Zingone A, Tedeschi G, Palumbo A. 2018. Biotic and environmental stress induces nitration and changes in structure and function of the sea urchin major yolk protein toposome. Scientific Reports 8:4610. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-22861-1.

Castellano I, Di Tomo P, Di Pietro N, Mandatori D, Pipino C, Formoso G, Napolitano A, Palumbo A, Pandolfi A. 2018. Anti-inflammatory activity of marine ovothiol A in an in vitro model of endothelial dysfunction induced by hyperglycemia. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2018: 2087373. doi.org/10.1155/2018/2087373.

Kumar A, AbdElgawad H, Castellano I, Lorenti M, Delledonne M, Beemster GTS, Asard H, Buia MC, Palumbo A. 2017. Physiological and Biochemical Analyses Shed Light on the Response of Sargassum vulgare to Ocean Acidification at Different Time Scales. Frontiers in Plant Science 8:570. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00570.

Kumar A, Castellano I, Patti FP, Delledonne M, Abdelgawad H, Beemster G, Asard H, Palumbo A, Buia MC. 2017. Molecular response of Sargassum vulgare to acidification at volcanic CO2 vents - insights from de novo transcriptomic analysis. Molecular Ecology 26:2276-2290. doi: 10.1111/mec.14034.

Migliaccio O, Castellano I, Di Cioccio D, Tedeschi G, Negri A, Cirino P, Romano G, Zingone A, Palumbo A. 2016. Subtle reproductive impairment through nitric oxide-mediated mechanisms in sea urchins from an area affected by harmful algal blooms. Scientific Reports 6:26086. DOI: 10.1038/srep26086.

Castellano I, Migliaccio O, D’Aniello S, Merlino A, Napolitano A, Palumbo A. 2016. Shedding light on ovothiol biosynthesis in marine metazoans. Scientific Reports 6:21506. DOI: 10.1038/srep21506.

Migliaccio O, Castellano I, Cirino P, Romano G, Palumbo A. 2015. Maternal Exposure to Cadmium and Manganese Impairs Reproduction and Progeny Fitness in the Sea Urchin Paracentrotus lividus. PLoS One 10: e0131815. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131815.

Migliaccio O, Castellano I, Romano G, Palumbo A. 2014. Stress response to cadmium and manganese in Paracentrotus lividus developing embryos is mediated by nitric oxide. Aquatic Toxicology 156:125-134. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquatox.2014.08.007.

Russo GL, Russo M, Castellano I, Napolitano A, Palumbo A. 2014. Ovothiol isolated from sea urchin oocytes induces autophagy in Hep-G2 cell line. Marine Drugs 12:4069-4085. doi:10.3390/md12074069.


Palumbo A, Castellano I, Napolitano A. 2018. Ovothiol: a potent natural antioxidant from marine organisms. In Blue Biotechnology. Production and use of marine molecules. Part 2: Marine molecules for disease treatment /prevention and for biological research. La Barre S, Bates SS, Eds., pp. 583-610, Wiley VCH, Weinheim, Germany, 2018. DOI: 10.1002/9783527801718.ch18.



From sea urchin eggs a powerful antioxidant, ovothiol, with great potential for drug development.

nitric oxide

Nitric oxide production (green fluorescence) in sea urchin eggs in response to treatment with diatom toxic aldehydes.

nitric oxide

Detection of nitric oxide (green fluorescence) in the sensory vesicle (sv) and in muscle cells (m) of an ascidian larva.

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