I am a Senior Researcher at the Research Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems of CNR (Italian National Research Council).  My research focus is on the plant physiological and biochemical responses to suboptimal growth conditions such as those imposed by the increasing impact of environmental stress factors, mainly global climate change.

In recent years I have also worked on the impact of organic soil amendments in semiarid and/or degraded soils on various plant properties. It was in this context that I applied for a transnational access to visit the Bio Based Products (BBP) department of Wageningen Food and Biobased Research (WFBR) under BRISK2. My goal was to evaluate the effect of the use organic amendments (digestate compost) on plant properties for biofuel production.

In particular, we used Rosmarinus officinalis stems and leaves as raw material. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L., Lamiaceae) is a woody perennial herb from Mediterranean regions. It is a hard plant that can grow on many soil types from rocky to sandy ones and therefore can be also used for the recovery of degraded soils together with the application of organic amendments to increase soil organic matter. The potential of R. officinalis and the role that soil fertilization may have in enhancing/demising plant capabilities for the production of biofuel has been evaluated by determining the saccharides composition of the stems and leaves, and the fatty acids composition of the leaves. My work during these ten days was divided in three steps.

First, the raw material was milled in a knife mill yielding chemically homogeneous fractions.

Second, the samples were prepared for analysis. Polysaccharides from the lignocellulosic plant material were hydrolysed following a two-step procedure: 1). strong sulfuric acid pre-hydrolysis (72%) at 30° C followed by 2) a hydrolysis at 95° C after diluting the primary hydrolysis slurry. Fatty acids were extracted in a methanol-chloroform mixture.

The third step was the analysis of by HPAE (High-Performance Anion-Exchange) and the determination of fatty acids by their transesterification and analysis by GC-2010.


These results, together with previous ones about the thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) of the plant material, will provide us with information about the impact of sustainable fertilization of the soil onto the plant quality for biofuel production.



I would like to thank all the kind personnel at BBP, particularly Ir. Peter Geerdink, Dr. Carl Safi,  Ing. Brigit Beelen, Ing. Nicole Engelen-Smit and Janine Verbokkem for their help and useful comments on my experiments during my stay.