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Balzano newResearcher
Marine Biotechnology Department

Tel.: +39 081 5833325
Fax: +39 081 7641355
E-mail: sergio.balzano(at)szn.it
Contatto Skype: sergio_balzano

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Marine microbiologist and biogeochemist with a broad research experience in phytoplankton taxonomy and ecology, I joined the department of marine biotechnology in May 2019. I focus on the use of microalgae for distinct biotechnological applications. I’m focusing on the diversity and adaptation of microalgae and other microbial eukaryotes to polluted environments and their potential use for bioremediation and water treatment. We recently isolated and brought in culture several microalgal strains from coastal sediment highly contaminated by heavy metals and hydrocarbons and identified a green alga, identified as Tetraselmis convolutae, able to tolerate and uptake heavy metals (https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10122445). In addition I’m also focusing on the production of secondary metabolites from the oleaginous alga Nannochloropsis. Modern sequencing techniques are shedding light on the genetic, metabolic, and chemical diversity of marine microbes as well as their ability to degrade or uptake pollutants. Reconstructing such biosynthetic pathways is the challenge of the coming decade. I´m generally interested in (1) microalgal mass culturing to produce specific compounds as well as for phycoremediation, (2) reconstructing metabolic pathways, and (3) searching novel microbial products from aquatic phytoplankton using genomic/transcriptomic/bioinformatic approaches.


I graduated in 2004 from Parthenope University, Naples after a master thesis in phytoplankton taxonomy and morphology. Then I did a PhD in marine biogeochemistry at the university of Southampton where I focused on trace metal cycling in marine aggregates. Finally, I carried out three distinct postdoctoral research projects in Roscoff (France, 2009-2012, phytoplankton diversity and ecology), Adelaide (Australia, 2012-2014, biofouling microbes), and Texel (Netherlands, 2014-2018, biosynthetic pathways of microalgal lipids).

Selected Publications

Balzano S, Marie D, Gourvil P and Vaulot D (2012). Composition of the summer photosynthetic pico and nanoplankton communities in the Beaufort Sea assessed by T-RFLP and sequences of the 18S rRNA gene from flow cytometry sorted samples. The ISME journal, 6, 1480-1498

Balzano S, Corre E, Decelle J, Sierra R, Wincker P, Da Silva C, Poulain J, Pawlowski J, Not F. (2015). Transcriptome analyses to investigate symbiotic relationships between marine protists. Frontiers in Microbiology 6 (98):1-17

Balzano S, Abs E, Leterme SC (2015). Protist diversity along a salinity gradient in a coastal lagoon. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 74:263-277

Balzano S., Lattaud J., Rampen S., Bale N., Schouten S. (2018). A quest for the biological sources of long chain alkyl diols in the western tropical North Atlantic Ocean. Biogeosciences 15: 5951–5968

Decelle, J., H. Stryhanyuk, B. Gallet, G. Veronesi, M. Schmidt, S. Balzano, S. Marro, C. Uwizeye, P.-H. Jouneau, J. Lupette, J. Jouhet, E. Maréchal, Y. Schwab, N. L. Schieber, R. Tucoulou, H. Richnow, G. Finazzi and N. Musat (2019). "Algal Remodeling in a Ubiquitous Planktonic Photosymbiosis." Current Biology 29(6): 968-978.e964.

Balzano S., Villanueva L., de Bar M., Sahonero Canavesi D.X., Yildiz C., Engelmann J.C., Marechal E., Lupette J., Sinninghe Damsté J.S., Schouten S. (2019). Biosynthesis of Long Chain Alkyl Diols and Long Chain Alkenols in Nannochloropsis spp. (Eustigmatophyceae). Plant and Cell Physiology (in press, doi:10.1093/pcp/pcz078)

Balzano S, Sardo A, Blasio M, Chahine TB, Dell’Anno F, Sansone C, Brunet C. Microalgal metallothioneins and phytochelatins and their potential use in bioremediation (2020). Frontiers in Microbiology: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00517

Blasio M, Balzano S. (2021). Fatty Acids Derivatives From Eukaryotic Microalgae, Pathways and Potential Applications. Frontiers in Microbiology (https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2021.718933)

Balzano S, Sardo A. (2022). Bioinformatic prediction of putative metallothioneins and phytochelatins in non-ciliate protists (2022). Biology Letters. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2022.0039

Barra L, Sardo A, Moros Caballero M, Smerilli A, Chiaiese P, Percopo I, Cavalletti E, Castro-Hinojosa C, Balzano S. (2022). Identification of a Green Algal Strain Collected from the Sarno River Mouth (Gulf of Naples, Italy) and Its Exploitation for Heavy Metal Remediation. Microorganisms 10, 2445. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10122445

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