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PON Ricerca e Innovazione 2014-2020
(CCI: 2014IT16M2OP005)
Calls for Proposals for the awarding of grants aimed to enhance research infrastructures, pursuant to Action II.1 of the National Operative Programme – Research and Innovation 2014-2020

Title: Research and marine infrastructure strengthening (EMBRC-IT)

Acronym: PRIMA

Code : PIR01_00029

Duration of the project (in months): 32

Research infrastructure targeted by the project: EMBRC - European Marine Biological Resource Centre


Italy has an extraordinary potential in the field of marine research thanks to the heritage of about 2000 high-level researchers. However, this potential remains largely unexpressed due to the limit of the infrastructures. The project PRIMA aims to fill this gap by increasing the Italian competitiveness on the basic and applied marine research in the European context by tightly linking this effort to the EMBRC-ERIC infrastructure and then contextually increasing the importance and impact of Italy in the marine research at European level. The project aims to strengthen the research infrastructures through: i) the acquisition of instruments not available in this research field at national level of relevant technological complexity that allow investigations that are currently not feasible; ii) the completion and strengthening of existing infrastructures to make them competitive in the light of new research developments; iii) the creation of hubs able to allow researchers of the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, and overall of the country, to access and investigate marine habitats, thus increasing the potential development of some key regions in Italy.

Fano 1 lightSituated on the waterfront of Sassonia, Fano, the Fano territorial seat of SZN forms part of the Fano Marine Centre, a multidisciplinary collaboration with the University of Urbino, The Polytechnic University of Marche, the University of Bologna, and the National Research Council (CNR). All five of the research departments of SZN are represented at Fano, reflecting the diversity of research from genomics and microbiology to the ecology of sharks. As well as collaborating in projects in Italy and Europe, staff are involved in research based in New Zealand and Antarctica. Future projects will be developed with a focus on ecosystems of the Adriatic Sea.


Fano 2The centre currently has three laboratories, dedicated to microscopy, chemical, and molecular biology. All are equipped with new, state-of-the-art analytical instruments. A new project, financed via the European Recovery Fund, will double the laboratory space and is predicted to be completed in 2025.

Research vessel

Under construction


SZN has built a new public aquarium, found on the ground floor of the complex, that will prioritise local Adriatic Sea ecosystems. It is planned to open to visitors during 2023. A research area has been completed alongside the public aquarium that will support experimental work on marine organisms, including projects on animal behaviour, ecotoxicology, climate change effects, and restoration of marine habitats.

Research Projects

Fano research staff have a wide range of interests, including the ecology of marine bacteria and viruses, environmental impact studies, the reproduction and behaviour of fishes, variation in the chemical composition of the seas, marine conservation, the feeding ecology of sharks, and methods for surveying marine life. The staff includes active research divers.


Trevor WillisCoordinator


Lisa Locatello
Milva Pepi
Eugenio Rastelli
Michael Tangherlini


Antonio Cannavacciuolo (Laboratory manager)
Domenico Sacco (Aquarist)

Postdoctoral fellows

Emanuela Bruschi
Sarah Magozzi

PhD students

Eric Diaz Delgado
Eleonora Negro


Oliviero Borgheresi
Alessia Ciraolo


  • FSBI (Fisheries Society of the British Isles) Small Research Grant 2021-2022. Impact of the ejaculate microbiome on the outcome of sperm competition (Locatello)
  • FSBI (Fisheries Society of the British Isles) Small Research Grant 2021-2022. Can isotope biomarkers in vertebrae and teeth estimate the field metabolic rates in elasmobranchs? (Diaz, Willis)
  • LIFE ELIFE “Elasmobranchs Low-Impact Fishing Experience” (Rastelli)
  • LIFE SEDREMED “Bioremediation of contaminated sediments in coastal areas of ex-industrial sites” (Rastelli)
  • MUR-PNRR (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza) 2022-2025, National Biodiversity Future Center (NBFC), Spoke 7: Biodiversity and society: communication, education and social impact (Locatello)
  • MUR-PNRR (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza) 2022-2025, National Biodiversity Future Center (NBFC), Spoke 1: Mapping and monitoring actions to preserve marine ecosystem biodiversity and functioning. “Comunità ittiche del mesofotico ed abissali” (Willis)
  • MUR-PNRR (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza) 2022-2025, National Biodiversity Future Center (NBFC), Spoke 2: Bioremediation. (Rastelli)
  • NEIF (National Environmental Isotope Facility - NERC) Establishing the trophic role of cleanerfish in temperate reefs with the use of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes. 2023. (Negro, Willis)
  • PNRA “Diversity and ecological role of GIAnt Viruses in Antarctic ecosystems and consequences of ice melting on their dynamics (GIAVA)” (Rastelli, Tangherlini)
  • PON Marine Hazard “Studio e mitigazione impatto antropico su ambiente marino” (Rastelli)
  • PON Risorse Umano: “Habitat correlates of deep-sea fish communities” (Willis)
  • PON Risorse Umano: Effetto della densità di popolazione sulle dinamiche di accoppiamento e sul successo riproduttivo di pesci di aree costiere del Mediterraneo  (Locatello)

Recent Publications

Aguzzi, J., Flögel, S., Marini, S., Thomsen, L., Albiez, J., Weiss, P., ... & Danovaro, R. (2022). Developing technological synergies between deep-sea and space research. Elem Sci Anth 10(1), 00064.

Angeles, I. B., Romero-Martínez, M. L., Cavaliere, M., Varrella, S., Francescangeli, F., Piredda, R., ... & Frontalini, F. (2023). Encapsulated in sediments: eDNA deciphers the ecosystem history of one of the most polluted European marine sites. Environment International 107738.

Arcadi, E., Rastelli, E., Tangherlini, M., Rizzo, C., Mancuso, M., Sanfilippo, M., ... & Romeo, T. (2022). Shallow-water hydrothermal vents as natural accelerators of bacterial antibiotic resistance in marine coastal areas. Microorganisms 10(2), 479.

Arcadi, E., Rizzo, C., Sciutteri, V., Tangherlini, M., Calogero, R., Sanfilippo, M., ... & Romeo, T. (2022, October). Metal-tolerant bacteria for monitoring Mediterranean Shallow Hydrothermal environments: the case studies of Panarea. In 2022 IEEE International Workshop on Metrology for the Sea; Learning to Measure Sea Health Parameters (MetroSea) pp. 168-173.

Barone, G., Corinaldesi, C., Rastelli, E., Tangherlini, M., Varrella, S., Danovaro, R., & Dell’Anno, A. (2022). Local environmental conditions promote high turnover diversity of benthic deep-sea fungi in the Ross Sea (Antarctica). Journal of Fungi 8(1), 65.

Bennett-Williams J, C Skinner, ASJ Wyatt, RAR McGill, TJ Willis (2022) A multi-tissue, multi-species assessment of lipid and urea stable isotope biases in mesopredator elasmobranchs. Frontiers in Marine Science 9, 821478.

Corinaldesi, C., Bianchelli, S., Rastelli, E., Varrella, S., Canensi, S., Gambi, C., ... & Dell’Anno, A. (2022). The paradox of an unpolluted coastal site facing a chronically contaminated industrial area. Frontiers in Marine Science 8, 813887.

Corinaldesi, C., Varrella, S., Tangherlini, M., Dell'Anno, A., Canensi, S., Cerrano, C., & Danovaro, R. (2022). Changes in coral forest microbiomes predict the impact of marine heatwaves on habitat-forming species down to mesophotic depths. Science of the Total Environment 823, 153701.

Dell’Anno, F., Rastelli, E., Buschi, E., Barone, G., Beolchini, F., & Dell’Anno, A. (2022). Fungi can be more effective than bacteria for the bioremediation of marine sediments highly contaminated with heavy metals. Microorganisms 10(5), 993.

Dell’Anno F, van Zyl LJ, Trindade M, Buschi E, Cannavacciuolo A, Pepi M, Sansone C, Brunet C, Ianora A, de Pascale D, Golyshin PN, Dell’Anno A, Rastelli E (2023) Microbiome enrichment from contaminated marine sediments unveils novel bacterial strains for petroleum hydrocarbon and heavy metal bioremediation. Environmental Pollution 317: 120772

Fanelli, E., Di Giacomo, S., Gambi, C., Bianchelli, S., Da Ros, Z., Tangherlini, M., ... & Danovaro, R. (2022). Effects of Local Acidification on Benthic Communities at Shallow Hydrothermal Vents of the Aeolian Islands (Southern Tyrrhenian, Mediterranean Sea). Biology 11(2), 321.

Fontana C.M., Locatello L., Sabatelli P., Facchinello N., Lidron E., Maradonna F., Carnevali O., Rasotto M.B., Dalla Valle L. (2022). EPG5 knockout leads to the impairment of reproductive success and courtship behaviour in a zebrafish model of autophagy-related diseases. Biomedical Journal 45(2): 377-386.

Galasso, C., Lekube, X., Cancio, I., Dell’Anno, A., Brunet, C., Sansone, C., & Tangherlini, M. (2022). Marine fungi as potential eco-sustainable resource for precious metals recovery from electronic waste. Waste and Biomass Valorization, 13, 1-10.

Marĉeta T., Locatello L., Alban S., Abu Hassan MS., Nik Mohmmad Azmi N., Finos L., Badocco D., Marin MG. (2022). Transgenerational effects and phenotypic plasticity in sperm and larvae of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus under ocean acidification. Aquatic Toxicology 248: 106208.

Munari, C., Borja, A., Corinaldesi, C., Rastelli, E., Lo Martire, M., Pitacco, V., & Mistri, M. (2022). First Application of the AMBI Index to the Macrobenthic Soft-Bottom Community of Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea, Southern Ocean). Water 14(19), 2994.

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