Ongoing Project

Acronym: SABANA
Title: Sustainable integrated algae biorefinery for the production of bioactive compounds for agriculture and aquaculture.
European Project H2020: Research and Innovation program, Grant Agreement No. 72787.
Partner: University of Almeria (UAL) Spain RTO (Coordinator); Aqualia (AQA) Spain – Industrial; Westfalia-GEA (GEA) Germany; Industrial Karlsruhe Institute Technology (KIT) Germany – RTO; Biorizon Biotech S.L. (BZN) Spain – Industrial; Mikrobiologicky ustav – AVCR, v.v.i. (IMIC) Czech Republic – RTO; Università degli studi di Milano (UNIMI) Italy – RTO; Agricola Italiana Alimentare (AIA) Italy – Industrial (Istituto Spallanzani: subcontractor AIA);Universidad de las Palmas-Spanish Bank of Algae (BEA) Spain – RTO; Széchenyi István University (SZE) Hungary – RTO; Consorzio Italiano Biogas e Gassificazione (CIB) Italy – Industrial.
Scientific manager of the project: FRANCISCO GABRIEL ACIEN FERNANDEZ – Università di Almeria (Spagna).
Responsible for the Spallanzani Institute: Parati Katia -Istituto Spallazani.
Start date: 2016
End date: 2020
The SABANA Project envisages the development of a large-scale biorefinery based on an integrated microalgae system for the production of biostimulants and biopesticides in agriculture and feed and additives in aquaculture using sea water and nutrients from agro-zootechnical waste. The objective is to obtain a ZERO-waste process at an industrial scale of up to 5 ha, which is sustainable both from an environmental and economic point of view. The Spallanzani Institute, in collaboration with AIA (Veronesi brand), is involved in the verification of experimental diets based on microalgae on fish of zootechnical interest in order to characterize their efficacy and healthiness. A first test is currently underway: 2 different microalgal species (Nannochloropsis gaditana, Scenedesmus almeriensis) known for their high content in proteins, lipids and antioxidant and immunostimulant molecules (Lubian et al., 2000; Krienitz et al., 2006; Sanchez et al., 2008; Mahmoud et al., 2018) have been used as a partial substitute (10%) of flour and fish oil for the formulation of experimental feed. The diets are currently being tested on young sturgeons (Acipenser baeri) at the Spallanzani Institute’s aquaculture facility.

Title: Integrated micro-algae based biorefinery for the sustainable production of alternative feeds in aquaculture.
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia “A. Mirri” (Coordinator)
Istituto Spallanzani
Distretto Pesca e crescita blu – COSVAP
Responsible for the Spallanzani Institute: Katia Parati
Start date: 2019
End date: 2021
The project proposal aims to implement an innovative method based on microalgae for the exploitation of exhaust waters of aquaculture plants. In particular, the project intends to support their recycling by reducing the nutrient load for a greater environmental compatibility and to produce a microalgae biomass to be exploited in the feed sector. The marine pisciculture in Sicily produces about 3000 tons / year, of which about 1,800-2,000 t of sea bass and sea bream, which amounts to approximately 15% of the national production. Aquaculture, however, impacts on aquatic ecosystems as waste products (mainly phosphorus and nitrogen) accumulate downstream. The project design develops within the concept of biorefinery and circular economy by responding to the need to improve the efficient use of resources through the exploitation of wastes and by-products while reducing emissions of pollutants into the environment through integrated management and technological approaches. The main objective is to develop an integrated and sustainable biorefinery based on microalgae from which to extract a range of products for the aquaculture sector using water and nutrients recovered from water from aquaculture plants, thus allowing to reduce the environmental impact of the sector.

Title: MEDIterranean Trout REsearch&RePRODUCTION – Implementation of methods for conservation, reproduction and intensive breeding of a valuable and innovative species of inland waters: the Mediterranean trout or macrostigma.
Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia “A. Mirri” (Coordinator)
Istituto Spallanzani
Distretto Pesca e crescita blu – COSVAP
Responsible for the Spallanzani Institute: Katia Parati
Start date: 2019
End date: 2021
The project aims to create a cryobank of macrostigma trout sperm and a stock of genetically selected breeders through the implementation of protocols for the identification of single individuals (breeding and descendants) to support a zootechnical-ichthyogenic center. The center will pursue the conservation of fish biodiversity through targeted breeding schemes supported by genetic tools (such as the retrospect assignment of kinship) in order to avoid inbreeding in view of subsequent release of offspring of high genetic variability. For some years now, the Sicilian region has implemented a series of activities aimed at developing an entrepreneurial, multifunctional and integrated reality to enhance the internal areas through the intensive rearing of some valuable species of highly alternative internal waters, such as the macrostigma trout (Salmo cettii). The development of methods for the intensive rearing of some of these endangered species could become a useful tool not only for repopulation actions, but also in the sanitary and zootechnical field in order to introduce new genetically selected species free from main pathologies.
The project has the following main objectives:
1) to maintain and breed genetically pure bloodstocks free of SEV and NEI (Category I) for the purpose of conserving the biodiversity of wild and zootechnical strains;
2) to release genetically pure, healthy and vaccinated fry on the appropriate sites in order to restore the native population;
The achievement of these objectives will be pursued through the control of artificial reproduction and breeding techniques, the use of individual marking systems (microchips and genetic fingerprinting), the development of specific control lines and the automation of the acquisition of biometric data.

Acronym: NEWTECH
Title: New Technologies for Cheese production
Coordinator: Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria – zootecnia ed acquacoltura (CREA-ZA), Lodi.
Partner: Istituto Spallanzani (IS), Rivolta d’Adda.
Start date: July 2017
End date: June 2020
Responsible for Istituto Spallanzani: Graziella Bongioni.
The project has the following objectives: to develop advanced techniques to support the assessment of authenticity of DOP productions in the national dairy sector; to experimentally investigate the effect of the use of anhydrous milk derivatives in the production of industrial cheeses; to develop a new near infrared spectrometry system (NIR) for evaluating the structural properties of cheeses. The Spallanzani Institute is involved in the research “Innovative approaches against counterfeiting in the PDO production of the dairy sector (Grana Padano)”. In fact, Grana Padano is one of the most “plagiarized” products in the world. As the consequence, increasingly sophisticated techniques are required for its characterization in defense of its authenticity. In this regard, the analysis of DNA could allow to verify the traceability, thus enhancing its production and protecting both producers who work in compliance with disciplines and consumers. More specifically, studying the genetic diversity of microflora and “vegetable residues” in milk by bioinformatics and statistical approaches will allow milk and cheese to be mapped in function of polymorphisms, which can be used as potential markers for biodiversity and traceability testing.

Acronym: NEW4REP
Title: Innovative technologies in the bovine and porcine reproduction for a new Lombard farm profitability: informative and demonstration actions.
Project PSR 2014-2020 of Regione Lombardia (Fondo Europeo Agricolo per lo sviluppo Rurale: l’Europa Investe nelle zone rurali).Coordinator: Francesca Petrera, Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria – zootecnia ed acquacoltura (CREA-ZA), Lodi.
Partner: Istituto Spallanzani (IS), Rivolta d’Adda.Start date: October 2017End date: October 2019Internal referent for Istituto Spallanzani: Valeria Bornaghi.
The aim of the project is to provide and transfer knowledge to farmers of the Lombardy Region finalized at improving the management of the reproductive aspects, the assumption of genetic improvement and qualitative and quantitative aspects of bovine and porcine breeding. The project envisages both information and demonstration actions designed to ensure that breeders and professionals reach the highest level of awareness in adopting solutions according to individual needs.
Information actions include the dissemination of basic and specialized knowledge from scientific research and field expertise, which are relevant to modern entrepreneurs. In particular, the dissemination relates to: heat detection, the type of sperm to be used, the protocols for estrous induction, the most advanced instrumentation and technologies for the management of Artificial Insemination (AI) and for the monitoring of the herd.
Demonstrative actions include practical activities both in the laboratory and in the field supported by pilot companies. The actions will serve to practically explain and demonstrate to operators the potentialities and usefulness of some recent technologies and instruments available in the animal breeding sector. The awareness about the actions identified in the project is a prerequisite for informed business enterprise that combines the management of the herd with increased corporate sustainability, the guarantee of a higher quality product and higher profit margins.

Title: Regional project for the creation of genetic selection centres for the resistance to Scrapie
Partner: the UO Veterinaria della DG Salute- Regione Lombardia (coordinator), the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna (IZSLER), the Italian Experimental Institute Lazzaro Spallanzani, Milan (subcontractor)
Start date 03/11/2014
End date 02/11/2016
The project has as main aim to support the selection for the genetic resistance to Scrapie within the sheep population of Lombardy. To protect the sheep population and to make possible the re-population of the breeding centers which are struck by an outbreak, it is necessary to heighten the level of resistance of the flocks of the races which are of local interest by increasing the percentage of the ARR alleles and by progressively reducing the percentage of ARQ alleles, through the promotion of the support in the selection. The selection for the resistance to Scrapie also needs to take into consideration aspects related to the subject of “inbreeding” in the breeding centers. The Institute Spallanzani researches the genetic variability in the sheep races involved in the Project to avoid problems due to possible blood relationships within the sheep breeding population. The study wishes to specifically develop a SNPs Chip for the research on genetic variability within the genetic platform of the Institute’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology.The project activities also aim at a broader screening of the genotypes of the prion protein gene done by the IZSLER which consists of all the individuals present in the associated breeding centers. The project provides the basis for the creation of “virtual centers of selection” which will improve the availability of  individuals genetically resistant to Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE)

Acronym: Well4dop
Title Identification and distinction of molecular markers for an integrated and sustainable system of bovine breeding based on the welfare to support of the DOP productions
Project coordinator: Andrea Galli CREA_FLC (Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi economica agricola – Centro di ricerca per le produzioni foraggere e lattiero-caseari)
The project consists of three Operating Units (OU): the Italian Experimental Institute Lazzaro Spallanzani (ISILS) – Graziella Bongioni
The Centro di Ricerca per la produzione delle carni e il miglioramento genetico del Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l’analisi economica agricola (CRA-PCM) – Bianca Moioli. The Centro per le produzioni foraggero lattiero-casearie del Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l’analisi economica agricola (CRA-FLC)-Fabio Palmiro Abeni.
Internal referent Caterina Cambuli
Start date Decree 20/03/2015
End date 31/07/2017
The Strategic Plan for innovation and research in the agricultural, forestry and food sectors for 2014-2020 situates this project in the area of intervention on the sustainable increase of productivity, profit and efficiency of the resources within the agro-ecosystems. The subjects discussed in the project wish to deepen the topics introduced during the EXPO 2015 “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” which has expanded the discussion in an interdisciplinary way to the entire agri-food, agricultural and environmental system with the aim to realise a “new vision on the system” promoting the balance between the nutritional needs of mankind and those of the planet.
The proposal is structured in four work packages:
WP1 – Coordination
WP2 – Identification and distinction of the molecular markers which determine the metabolic efficiency and the immunity state
WP3 – Identification and distinction of the biological and molecular markers which determine the welfare and life length.
WP4 – Diffusion and evaluation of the results.
The proposed research lines are focussed on bovines and new phenotypes of a functional type, which define the life length and the productivity in order to improve animal welfare and breeding sustainability.
The activities make it also possible to enhance the data load of genomic and phenotypic information of the RIPROWEL Project of the Institute Spallanzani through the use of new and stronger systems for molecular and statistical survey.
The project offers a concrete contribution to the national zootechnical industry, perfectly in line with the growing need for sustainability required by the international community. The distinction of molecular markers, useful for the improvement of selection techniques, contributes to a higher quality standard for the productions and the promotion of the DOP productions derived from productive systems which pay specific attention to animal welfare.


Acronym: PerCaso
Title: Prevention of diseases through Evaluation of the genetic Resistence in CAttle, Sows and Ovin.
Partner:  IZSLER-IS Start date: 01/06/2014
End date: 31/05/2017
The Project creates the basis for a broader research focussed on the study of resistance to Neospora caninum, an important cause of infective abortions in bovines. The research on the resistance to diseases is complex, but have recently found support of modern technologies (Nex-Generation sequencing, Chip of SNPs at high density) which make it possible to increase the amount of information about the genome, useful for related studies. The etiological agent is an obligatory intercellular parasitic protozoon which infects ruminants (as intermediate hosts) and canids (as final hosts). Globally the average losses caused by abortions due to N. caninum are estimated at 1.298,3 million dollars, approximately two thirds of the losses target the dairy chain. Apart from the economic losses caused by abortion there are the losses due to the prolonged calving interval, the anticipated reform of the animals and the decrease of the milk production. The project consists in an epidemiological survey conducted by the the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia and Emilia Romagna with the aim to determine the current state of diffusion of the parasite. The Institute Spallanzani is engaged in the creation of a Biobank of biological samples, with specific phenotypic characteristics related to pathogenesis, which will make it possible to distinguish the haplotypes associated with a reduced susceptibility to the disease in future research.


Title: “Pluridisciplinary study for a Robust and sustainabLe Improvement of Fertility In Cows”
Acronym: JEF
Title: “Provision of modern, affordable and sustainable energy services to rural poor communities in West African countries from Jatropha curcas oil: an integrated approach based on technological transfer and capacity building improvement”

Titolo: “Characterization of high-biological-value microalgae and model-based optimization of growth to upgrade the floristic facilities”
Cariplo Project (Tender with deadline: “Integrated Research on industrial biotechnologies”)
Partner: Università degli Studi di Pavia
Main Investigator: Dr. Katia Parati
Start date: 01/03/2015
End date: 01/03/2017
The existing studies concerning the complex world of microalgae and their derivatives indicate that these microorganisms are potentially of significant importance to a great number of biotechnological fields, e.g. the pharmaceutical, nutritional and nutraceutical, cosmetic and bio-energetic one and aquaculture. These microorganisms have had a structural impact on a vast number of applications but many more possibilities are yet to be explored. For this purpose, international activities of research and development have been set up, also to guarantee an economically sustainable production. Italy, being in a state of economic and financial crisis, suffers under the lack of investments in the field, at the expense of the future of its own small- and medium-sized companies. Therefore, it is of major importance to develop a research activity applied to this sector, with the support of the secondary sector. The project plan consists in the innovative development of a biotechnological system based on the production of phytoplankton. The results obtained from this research will be: – the identification of algae strains aimed at the extraction of bio-active molecules of interest to the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical fields; – the development of an experimental cultivation process structured within the specific companies where these processes are to be applied in order to upgrade these companies’ functionality.  The innovative system developed in this research will be an experimental eco-sustainable model applicable in the companies of the relative sector.


Title: “Use of microalgae to mitigate nitrogen pollution from agricultural wastewaters”
Project Cariplo (Tender with deadline: “Research on water pollution for a correct use of the water resources”)
Project coordinator: Politecnico di Milano
Partner: The Italian Experimental Institute Lazzaro Spallanzani
Main Investigator: Ing. Elena Ficara
Start date: 01/03/2015
End date: 01/03/2017
The present project aims at verifying the feasibility of the use of microalgae to remove ammoniacal nitrogen from waste water of agri-zootechnical origin and this as possible quick ad easy solution to the pollution caused by nitrates to surface and groundwater. The research will look at the wastewater coming from biogas plants and it aims at improving the solid/liquid separation techniques, this to obtain fractions which are properly clarified and capable of letting light pass through. In the lab there will be cultivated microalgal inocula on this type of wastewater and the phytoplankton and microbiological communities will be analysed from a biological point of view, for growth rate and metabolic state. The depurative return of the nutrients is evaluated. In the end, on the basis of the experimental data, the strains most suitable for the treatment will be subject to cultivation in a prototypic tub in the open air evaluating the return process and the algal biomass production.