The Botany unit focuses its activity on the study of photosynthetic prokaryotes and eukaryotes and their adaptive strategies, in terms of resource use and inter-relationships with the environment and by the different approaches of cell, molecular and functional biology, applied plant biology and landscape ecology, plant ecology, geobotany, taxonomy and plant systematics, in connection with basic research and models, as well as with applied and biotechnological advances.
The team deepens the knowledge on phylogeny, differentiation and morpho-functional organization of wild plants and crops of current interest for humans, as well as on the mechanisms by which plant organisms develop and interact with the environment, including plant reproductive systems and ecophysiological responses of seeds in natural and laboratory conditions. Furthermore, the unit deals with the study of floristic and vegetation diversity at the different levels of biological organization and in different pedoclimatic conditions.
Moreover, the Botany unit studies the problems related to the definition of ecosystem quality, nature conservation, environmental impact assessment, floristic-vegetation aspects of environmental planning, environmental education, compatible management and monitoring of natural resources, also with regard to global changes. In order to clarify evolutionary trends of plants, it makes use of comparative phylogenetic methods, allowing the adaptive interpretation of functional traits on a macro-evolutionary scale.
A further field of interest concerns the studies of the mechanisms to manage heavy metals in photosynthetic prokaryotes and eukaryotes and their repertoire to clean up polluted environments, verifying not only the ability to remove pollutants, but also the allied molecular mechanisms that regulate the homeostatic control of metal micronutrients and their uptake. Moreover, the unit deals with the environmental impact of nanoparticles, evaluating their possible effects on growth and development of plants, with the use of lichens and model plants in biomonitoring and for ecotoxicological studies, and with the exploitation of microalgae for cutting-edge biotechnological applications.
The research staff of Botany Unit:
Luigi Sanità di Toppi
Monica Ruffini Castiglione
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