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ruocco nadiaPh.D. Student
Sezione BEOM

Tel. +39 081 5833315
Fax: +39 081 7641355
e-mail nadia.ruocco(at)szn.it

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Research interests

Ecological role and biotechnological potential of marine organisms and their natural products
My research interests are in Molecular Ecology. Marine natural products (MNPs) are very interesting for their ecological and biotechnological roles. In fact, MNPs have several biological activities and can be used for biotechnological applications. I am interested in MNPs produced by two marine organisms: benthic diatoms and opistobranchs. It is well known that planktonic diatoms produce secondary metabolites (oxylipins) with cytotoxic activities. In contrast, very few information are reported about benthic diatoms and their metabolites. In my work I will try to understand the possible toxigenic effects of benthic diatoms upon grazing activity of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. For the feeding experiments of sea urchins with benthic diatoms I will construct a mesocosm, in order to create in laboratory the same conditions of marine environment. I will use monoclonal cultures of three benthic diatoms Cocconeis scutellum parva, Cocconeis neothumensis and Diploneis sp., also characterizing their secondary metabolites. Through Next-Generation Sequencing approaches I will detect if there are gene targets affected by benthic diatom-derived secondary metabolites.
I am also interested in molecular biosynthesis of secondary metabolites involved in defensive mechanism of opistobranchs. These marine mollusks are well known for their brilliant ability to produce secondary metabolites and to store them inside specific cells or organs. I am interested in four species as possible candidates: Scaphander lignarius, Haminoea orbignyana, Elysia viridis, and Bulla striata, because there are some evidences in literature of their secondary metabolites for biotechnological application. I will apply Next Generation Sequencing approach to reveal the biosynthetic pathways involved in the production of the molecules of interest.

Journal Papers

Varrella S., Romano G., Ianora A., Bentley M.G., Ruocco N., Costantini M. (2014) Molecular response to toxic diatom-derived aldehydes in the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. Marine Drugs 12: 2089-2113.

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