Title: borsista di ricerca
Association/Company: Università degli studi di Firenze
BSc degree in 2013 in Agricultural Sciences and Technologies at the University of Florence with a thesis entitled “Culture of the microalga Phaeodactylum tricornutum under nutrient stress for the production of biofuels”. MSc degree in 2017 in Plant and Microbial Biotechnology at the University of Pisa with a thesis on “Molecular and functional characterization of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi from a biodiversity hot spot of the UNESCO reserve Selva Pisana”. Since 2013 collaboration with F&M (Fotosintetica & Microbiologica S.r.l.) in isolation and characterization of microalgal and cyanobacterial strains and in the maintenance of the F&M algae culture collection. PhD in 2021 in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry (DAGRI) of the University of Florence, with a thesis entitled “Cyanobacterial biostimulants as an emerging strategy to improve agricultural yields”. Currently Postdoctoral researcher at the DAGRI Department of the University of Florence, working on microalgal colture and valorisation of microalgal biomass as biostimulants.
Technologies and innovations for microalgae cultivation
Large-scale production of microalgae: photobioreactors and methods of cultivation
Microalgae are photosynthetic microorganisms with great industrial potential thanks to their suitable biochemical composition, high growth rates and the number of bioactive molecules produced. In addition, microalgae can be cultivated in non-arable land and, for some strains, in waters with limited uses (saline, sewage or polluted water) and using CO2 from flue gases. Nowadays, the main obstacle to the commercial exploitation of microalgae is the high biomass production costs. Research on microalgae cultivation technologies must aim at minimizing biomass production costs and maximizing the output and / or efficiency of the processes while maintaining or even improving the quality of the final product. To achieve this purpose, the choice of the most suitable photobioreactor for the cultivated species and the production site is the first variable to be taken into consideration as the cultivation system greatly affects capital and operational costs for plant construction and running and the biomass productivity potential of the system. Moreover, the use of artificial light at selected wavelengths, in addition to natural light or as the only light source, can be a valid tool to increase productivity and enhance the synthesis of bioactive metabolites. Considering that the current cost of energy limits the adoption of these technologies in microalgae cultivation, the exploitation of renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or geothermal will be fundamental for the spread of microalgae-based product on the market.