• Istituto di Biologia e Patologia Molecolari

Tel :Studio: 0649912922 lab: +390649912319-2236
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Istitute of Molecular Biology and Pathology - National Research Council
c\/o Department of Biology and Biotecnology - Charles Darwin- Sapienza University of Rome
Istituto Fisiologia Generale primo piano, stanza 1 lab 6 e 11 - Universit\u00e0 di Roma La Sapienza - P.Le A.Moro 5 00185 Roma

My main research line focuses on the mechanisms of tolerance and accumulation of heavy metals and arsenic (As) in model species and in hyperaccumulators, that can be used to remediate contaminated soils. The role of phytochelatins (PCs) in heavy metal tolerance has been investigated in Arabidopsis and tobacco plants.  We are currently investigating the involvement of the ABC transporter MRP3 in the compartmentalization of As-PCs and complexes into the vacuole. 

Related Research interests include:

·      Investigating the role of some essential elements transporter, involved in root-to-shoot translocation of Arsenic, in hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata

·       Study of phytoextraction potential of Pteris vittata plants grown in natural contaminated field to monitoring its phytoextraction capability of Arsenic and heavy metals, by using non invasive and rapid XRF/HYP imaging tools, that allow analysis directly in the field.


The other research carried out in the lab is on the hormonal control of late stamen development in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana. Late stamen development consists of three simultaneous developmental processes: pollen maturation, anther dehiscence and filament elongation. We have demonstrated that auxin peaks during the initial stage of late development and that subsequently its concentration declines. The auxin peak is responsible for promoting filament elongation, whereas the subsequent decrease in auxin concentration triggers pollen maturation and anther dehiscence. The ultimate goal is to understand how the cross talk between different hormones regulates late stamen development. 
Within this research line, we are currently investigating the role of Auxin during Solanum Lycopersicum (tomato) late stamen development, which shows a similar flower development to  the Arabidopsis one.  



Ghelli R*, Brunetti P*, Napoli N*, De Paolis A, Cecchetti V, Tsuge T, Serino G, Matsui M, Mele G, Rinaldi G, Palumbo GA, Barozzi F, Costantino P, Cardarelli M.Plant Cell. 2018 Mar;30(3):620-637. doi: 10.1105/tpc.17.00840. Epub 2018 Mar 7. PMID: 29514943


Capobianco G , Brunetti P, Bonifazi G , Costantino P , Cardarelli M, and Serranti S “The use of µ-XRF combined with a multivariate approach to determine element variation and distribution in tobacco seedlings exposed to arsenate.” Spectrochimica Acta B, 2018, 147: 132-140 /doi.org/10.1016/j.sab.2018.05.029


Cecchetti V, Celebrin D, Napoli N, Ghelli R, Brunetti P, Costantino P, Cardarelli M., An auxin maximum in the middle layer controls stamen development and pollen maturation in Arabidopsis.  New Phytol. 2017 Feb;213(3):1194-1207. doi: 10.1111/nph.14207. Epub 2016 Sep 23. PMID: 27659765       


Zanella L, Fattorini L, Brunetti P, Roccotiello E, Cornara L, D'Angeli S, Della Rovere F, Cardarelli M, Barbieri M, Sanità di Toppi L, Degola F, Lindberg S, Altamura MM, Falasca G.Planta. Overexpression of AtPCS1 in tobacco increases arsenic and arsenic plus cadmium accumulation and detoxification. Planta 2016 Mar;243(3):605-22. doi: 10.1007/s00425-015-2428-8. Epub 2015 Nov 13. PMID: 26563149   


Brunetti P, Zanella L, De Paolis A, Di Litta D, Cecchetti V, Falasca G, Barbieri M, Altamura MM, Costantino P and Cardarelli M. Cadmium-inducible expression of the ABC-type transporter AtABCC3 increases phytochelatin-mediated cadmium tolerance in Arabidopsis. Received 19 December 2014; J Exp Bot. 2015 Jul;66(13):3815-29. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erv185. Epub 2015 Apr 21.PMID:25900618.  5-Yr impact factor: 6.229  


Cecchetti V*, Brunetti P*, Napoli N, Fattorini L, Altamura MM, Costantino P, Cardarelli M. ABCB1 and ABCB19 auxin transporters have synergistic effects on early and late Arabidopsis anther development. J Integr Plant Biol. 2015 Dec;57(12):1089-98. doi: 10.1111/jipb.12332. Epub 2015 Mar 16.PMID: 25626615 


Cecchetti V, Altamura MM, Brunetti P, Petrocelli V, Falasca G, Ljung K, Costantino P, and Cardarelli M. Auxin Controls Arabidopsis Anther Dehiscence by Regulating Endothecium Lignification and Jasmonic Acid Biosynthesis. Plant J. 2013 May;74(3):411-22. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12130. Epub 2013 Mar 4.PMID: 23410518


Lombardi R, Donini M, Villani ME, Brunetti P, Fujiyama K, Kajiura H, Paul M, Ma JK, Benvenuto E. Production of different glycosylation variants of the tumour-targeting mAb H10 in Nicotiana benthamiana: influence on expression yield and antibody degradation. Transgenic Res. 2012 Oct;21(5):1005-21. doi: 10.1007/s11248-012-9587-1. Epub 2012 Jan 12.PMID: 22238065 


Brunetti P, Zanella L, Proia A, De Paolis A, Falasca G, Altamura MM, Sanità di Toppi L, Costantino P, Cardarelli M. Cadmium tolerance and phytochelatin content of Arabidopsis seedlings over-expressing the phytochelatin synthase gene AtPCS1. J Exp Bot. 2011 Nov;62(15):5509-19. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err228. Epub 2011 Aug 12. PMID: 21841172  


Lombardi R, Villani ME, Di Carli M, Brunetti P, Benvenuto E and Donini M. Optimisation of the purification process of a tumour-targeting antibody produced in N. benthamiana using vacuum-agroinfiltration. Transgenic Res. 2010 Dec;19(6):1083-97. doi: 10.1007/s11248-010-9382-9. Epub 2010 Mar 15. PMID: 20229286  

Villani ME, Morgun B, Brunetti P, Marusic C, Lombardi R, Pisoni I, Bacci C, Desiderio A, Benvenuto E, Donini M. Plant pharming of a full-sized, tumour-targeting antibody using different expression strategies. Plant Biotechnol J. 2009 Jan;7(1):59-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2008.00371.x. Epub 2008 Sep 10. PMID: 18793269



Dr Maura Cardarelli
PhD Roberta Ghelli
PhD Davide Marzi
PhD student Maria Luia Antenozio

Current positions 

• 2018-present: Research scientist -III level, IBPM CNR
Previous positions 

• 2017-2018: Research scientist -III level, IBPM CNR, TD Research Area: Plant Molecules for environmental technologies and improvement of life. (Supervisor Dr Maura Cardarelli).

• 2016: Post Doctoral fellowship – Sapienza, University of Rome – IBPM CNR Project title: Role of Arabidopsis thaliana roots in the heavy metal uptake. (Supervisor Dr Maura Cardarelli, Prof. Sabrina Sabatini).
• 2014-2015: Post-doctoral Research Grant, Supported by Accademia dei Lincei - Project title: Role of ARF6 and ARF8 in the development of reproductive organs in higher plants. (Supervisor Dr Maura Cardarelli)
• 2010-2013: Post-Doctoral Research Grant, Sapienza University of Rome – IBPM CNR - Research Areas:

Mechanisms of tolerance and accumulation of heavy metal(loid)s (Cd, As) in model species.

Role of Auxin in the development of reproductive organs in higher plants. (Supervisor Dr Maura Cardarelli)
• 2008: Research fellowship, Floramiata spa Laboratory, funded by Province of Siena – Project title:” High-scale production and characterization of diagnostic and therapeutic antibodies expressed in transgenic plants”. 

• 2004-2007: PhD Student – Plant genetic and genomic section - ENEA, Casaccia, Anguillara, (RM) (Supervisor Dr Eugenio Benvenuto/ Dr. Marcello Donini)

Education and training

• 2008: PhD in Plant Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome Thesis title: “In plant production of an antimicrobial peptide”

• 2007: Training on preparation and transformation tecnics of Nicotiana tabacum Protoplasts, by pulse-chase analysis University of Warwick - Dep. of Biological Sciences  - (Supervisor Prof. Lorenzo Frigerio)
• 2004: Degree in Biological Sciencies, molecular biology field, cum laude. Thesis Title ”Neisseria Meningitidis proteome” (Supervisor: Prof. M. Eugenia Schininà)

• 2002 Erasmus Project exchange: Ecole Normale Superieure, Lyon, France / 

Prof. Albert Epstein Laboratories CNRS, Universitè C. Bernarde, Lyon, France – 2 months.

Acquisition of Electrophoretic technics – Discussion of thre thesis “Interaction between herpes simplex virus type1 protein ICP0 and cellular histone deacetylases and acetyltransferases”.


Ad hoc reviewer for scientific journals.