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Marine Biotechnology Department

Tel.: +39 081 5833262
Fax: +39 081 7641355
E-mail: sergio.balzano(at)szn.it
Contatto Skype: sergio_balzano

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Researcher in marine microbiology and biochemistry with a broad experience in phytoplankton taxonomy and ecology, I joined the department of marine biotechnology in May 2019. I focus on the use of microalgae for distinct biotechnological applications. High throughput DNA sequencing techniques are shedding light on the genetic, metabolic, and chemical diversity of marine microbes but reconstructing the biosynthetic pathways for the biotechnologically relevant microbial products is the challenge of the coming decade. I´m generally interested in combining chemical analyses with genome/transcriptome sequencing and bioinformatic analyses in order to identify specific metabolic pathways. I focus on (1) microalgal mass culturing for the production of specific compounds as well as for phytodepuration, (2) reconstructing metabolic pathways, and (3) searching novel microbial products from marine microalgae
I recently predicted the biosynthetic pathways of two long chain diols (LCDs) and long chain hydroxy fatty acids (LCHFAs) in the biofuel alga Nannochloropsis spp. (doi:10.1093/pcp/pcz078). I’m going to hire a PhD student, funded by the Open University, who will investigate the potential biotechnological applications of these two compounds classes as biopolymers and fuel lubricant.
In addition, I’m focusing on the adaptation of microalgae to heavy metal polluted environments and their potential use for phytoremediation.


I graduated in 2004 from Parthenope University, Naples after a master thesis in phytoplankton taxonomy and morphology. Then I did a PhD in marine biogeochemistry at the university of Southampton where I focused on trace metal cycling in marine aggregates. Finally, I carried out three distinct postdoctoral research projects in Roscoff (France, 2009-2012, phytoplankton diversity and ecology), Adelaide (Australia, 2012-2014, biofouling microbes), and Texel (Netherlands, 2014-2018, biosynthetic pathways of microalgal lipids).

Selected Publications

Balzano S, Marie D, Gourvil P and Vaulot D (2012). Composition of the summer photosynthetic pico and nanoplankton communities in the Beaufort Sea assessed by T-RFLP and sequences of the 18S rRNA gene from flow cytometry sorted samples. The ISME journal, 6, 1480-1498

Balzano S, Corre E, Decelle J, Sierra R, Wincker P, Da Silva C, Poulain J, Pawlowski J, Not F. (2015). Transcriptome analyses to investigate symbiotic relationships between marine protists. Frontiers in Microbiology 6 (98):1-17

Balzano S, Abs E, Leterme SC (2015). Protist diversity along a salinity gradient in a coastal lagoon. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 74:263-277

Percopo I, Ruggiero V, Balzano S, Siano R, Gourvil P, Vaulot D and Sarno D (2016). P. arctica sp. nov., a new cold-water cryptic Pseudo-nitzschia species within the P. pseudodelicatissima complex. Journal of Phycology: 52 (2): 184-199

Balzano S, Percopo I, Siano R, Gourvil P, Marie D, Vaulot D, Sarno D. (2017) Morphological and genetic diversity of diatoms in the Beaufort Sea with high contributions from the Chaetoceros neogracilis species complex. The Journal pf Phycology 53: 161-187

Balzano S., Villanueva L., de Bar M., Sinninghe Damste J. S., Schouten S. (2017). Impact of culturing conditions on the abundance and composition of long chain alkyl diols in species of the genus Nannochloropsis. Organic Geochemistry 108: 9-17

Lattaud J, Kirkels F., Peterse F., Freymond C., Eglinton T., Mollenhauer G., Balzano S., Villanueva L., Sinninghe Damsté J., Schouten S. (2018). Long-chain diols in rivers: distribution and potential biological sources. Biogeosciences, 15, 4147–4161

Balzano S., Lattaud J., Rampen S., Bale N., Schouten S. (2018). A quest for the biological sources of long chain alkyl diols in the western tropical North Atlantic Ocean. Biogeosciences 15: 5951–5968

Decelle, J., H. Stryhanyuk, B. Gallet, G. Veronesi, M. Schmidt, S. Balzano, S. Marro, C. Uwizeye, P.-H. Jouneau, J. Lupette, J. Jouhet, E. Maréchal, Y. Schwab, N. L. Schieber, R. Tucoulou, H. Richnow, G. Finazzi and N. Musat (2019). "Algal Remodeling in a Ubiquitous Planktonic Photosymbiosis." Current Biology 29(6): 968-978.e964.

Balzano S., Villanueva L., de Bar M., Sahonero Canavesi D.X., Yildiz C., Engelmann J.C., Marechal E., Lupette J., Sinninghe Damsté J.S., Schouten S. (2019). Biosynthesis of Long Chain Alkyl Diols and Long Chain Alkenols in Nannochloropsis spp. (Eustigmatophyceae). Plant and Cell Physiology (1–17 doi:10.1093/pcp/pcz078 doi:10.1093/pcp/pcz078)

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