valorization of algae and fish by-product; circular bio-economy; soil fertilizer; organic agriculture; sustainable food system; ecosystem health; biomonitoring; ecotoxicology.
3_Exploring synergies across sectors
We are interested in joining to a consortium for the valorization of algae/fish by-products by the development of novel formulation of soil fertilizers/amendments for agriculture and the testing of their effects on soil health.
In this regard, our inter-disciplinary (i.e. zoologists, ecologists, chemists, food technologists) research team is involved in several international and national soil health monitoring projects with the final aim to explore the relationship among soil health and food quality.
In particular, our trans-disciplinary research activities cover the following topics:
i) Ecotoxicology and Biomonitoring: molecular biomarkers, Single Species Tests (SST; Standards ISO, OECD), biotic indices (protists, QBS-ar, microarthropods; QBS-e, earthworms), and soil functional tests (bait-lamina test, litter bag), to monitor and assess potential impacts and threats on the "soil health" from anthropogenic and natural sources such as application of fertilizers, spraying of Plant Protection Products (PPPs), etc.;
ii) study of the structure and functional importance of the crop-associated soil microbiome by environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis (with special emphasis on Protists as bio-regulator of other microbial soil communities, e.g. bacteria and fungi) especially, in the crop-influenced rizosphere in promoting plant performance and productivity.
Research activities, are currently ongoing to investigate the effects produced by the application 1) of compost obtained from organic wastes and bio-plastics on the wheat root-associated microbiomes (in field); and 2) of novel coffee-based fertilizers on lettuce root-associated microbiomes in controlled lab conditions (pot experiments in climatic chamber);
iii) Food technology: a) Evaluation of the effect of formulation and processing on quality and stability of food;
2) development and characterization of functional food.
University of Camerino (UNICAM) is a ‘City Campus University’ chartered in 1336 and one of the most ancient and dynamic universities in Italy located in the "hearth" of the central (Umbria-Marche) Apennines mountain ranges. Further, UNICAM is embedded in the new incoming Organic Marche (Bio)-District, that will be one of the largest of Italy and Europe. The area also include several trout fish farms. In this regard, the main mission of UNICAM is to promote the sustainable development of this mountain territory. Main research activities are addressed to the monitoring, safeguarding and management of natural resources, the valorisation of agri-food waste to generate a closed-loop sustainable mountain agri-food system and the characterization and promotion of high quality local/traditional agri-food products. A special emphasis is posed on the sustainable management and monitoring of soil and water ecosystem health.