National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources

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Carmelina Bianco

Role: Researcher
Section: Researchers and Technologists
Division: Naples
Tel: (39) 081-6132610


2002: PhD in Chemical Sciences, University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy.

1997: Degree in Chemistry, University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy.


2012-today: staff researcher at Institute of Bioscience and BioResources - CNR, Naples, Italy.

2014: Training on “SeqAhead: NGS current challenges and data analysis for plant researchers” (TGAC, Norwich, UK).

2012-2013: staff researcher (temporary position) at Institute of Genetics and Biophysics “A. B. T.”- CNR, Naples, Italy.

2011: Training on “Next Generation Sequencing: from samples to data analysis” (IGA Summer School 2011, Udine).

2003-2012: Post-Doc fellowships at Institute of Genetics and Biophysics “A. B. T.”- CNR, Naples, Italy.

2005: Training on “Microarray Technology and Bioinformatics course” (Università di Camerino).

2003: Training on “Microarray 2003 data analysis and mining” (Dipartimento di Genetica, Biologia Generale e Molecolare, Università Federico II di Napoli).

2002: Training on “A pratical basic course in microarray data analysis and mining” (Dipartimento di Scienze Cliniche e Biologiche, Università di Torino).

2000-2002: PhD student at Institute of Genetics and Biophysics “A. B. T.”- CNR, Naples, Italy.

1997-2000: Post graduate training at University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy.

Main research activities

Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) is a major plant hormone able to affect many cellular processes in unrelated organisms: It acts as classical phytohormone in plants; influences the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and stress response in soil and enteric bacteria; and stimulates the transition to filamentous infective Saccharomyces cerevisiae in yeast cells. Furthermore, it has been reported that the combination of IAA and horseradish peroxidase, or a compound structurally very similar to IAA, indole-3-carbinol, could potentially be used for the treatment of human cancer. My research team has demonstrated that IAA is able to influence the DNA topology and expression of genes sensitive to changes in DNA supercoiling. We speculate that IAA can be considered a signal molecule, able to induce changes in the expression of selected groups of genes involved in various processes, including those related to nitrogen fixation. We suggest that IAA could be more than just a simple plant hormone. Many plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPR) inhabiting the rhizosphere synthesize and release auxins as secondary metabolites thanks to the rich supply of substrates exuded by the roots. Production of IAA affects root growth leading to the formation of root systems with increased exploratory capacity. This morphological modification plays a key role in the mechanisms of stress response. My research activities are mainly focused on the study of the molecular mechanisms by which IAA positively affects the interactions between rhizobacteria and their host plants (legumes and cereals). Two plant model systems (Medicago truncatula and Oryzae sativa) are used to analyse the effects of bacterial IAA on carbon and nitrogen metabolism, on the response to abiotic and biotic stresses, and on physiological parameters of the host plants. My challenge is the management of microbial communities to promote plant colonization by beneficial bacteria.

Another research line concerns the “Use of microbial community to clean up the environment”. Every day, industrial, commercial and personal practices produce wastes that often are harmful to public health and the ecosystems. Improper management of wastes may lead to contaminated air, soil and water. The breakdown of polluting compounds using indigenous or introduced microbes that naturally degrade contaminants (Bioremediation) provides an efficient and economical way to reduce environmental toxins. These microbes often use contaminants as a food source, thereby completely eliminating toxic compounds by changing them into basic elements such as carbon dioxide and water. In my research activity I have isolated and characterised several microbial species from polluted environments. The clean-up capabilities of these microorganisms have been tested, with very promising results. Experiments trying to improve their biodegradation activity are currently in progress.

Students’ Supervision

Supervisor of four master students and one PhD student.

Referee Activity

Reviewer for the evaluation of European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant 2019 Call.

Reviewer for international journals such as: Plos One, Frontiers in Microbiology, MPMI, Agronomy, Journal of Advances in Molecular Biology, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Journal of Applied Microbiology.

Guest Editor of a Special Issue on "Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria" in the journal Plants.

Selected Publications

  1. Defez, A. Andreozzi, S. Romano, G. Pocsfalvi, I. Fiume, R. Esposito, C. Angelini, C. Bianco. (2019). Bacterial IAA-delivery into Medicago root nodules triggers a balanced stimulation of C and N metabolism leading to biomass increase. Microorganism. doi:10.3390/microorganisms7100403
  2. Defez, A. Valenti, A. Andreozzi, S. Romano, M. Ciaramella, P. Pesaresi, S. Forlani, C. Bianco. (2019). New insights into structural and functional roles of Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA): changes in DNA topology and gene expression in bacteria. Biomolecules. doi:10.3390/biom9100522
  3. Andreozzi, P. Prieto, J. Mercado-Blanco, S. Monaco, E. Zampieri, S. Romano, G. Valè, R. Defez, C. Bianco. (2019). Efficient colonizzation of the endophytes Herbaspirillum huttiense RCA24 and Enterobacter cloacae RCA25 influences the physiological parameters of Oryza sativa L. cv. Baldo rice. Env. Microbiol. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.14688
  4. R. Defez, A. Andreozzi, M Dickinson, A. Charlton, L. Tadini, P. Pesaresi, Bianco. (2017). Improved drought stress resposonse in alfalfa plants nodulated by an IAA over-producing rhizobium strain. Front. in Microbiol., doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02466
  5. R. Defez, A. Andreozzi, Bianco. (2017). Theoverproduction of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA)in endophytesup-regulates nitrogen-fixation in both bacterial cultures and inoculated rice plants. Microb. Ecol., 74, 441-452. doi: 10.1007/s00248-017-0948-4
  6. R. Defez, R. Esposito, C. Angelini, Bianco. (2016). Overproduction of indole-3-acetic acid in free-living rhizobia indices transcriptional changes resembling those occurring in nodule bacteroids. Mol. Plant Microb. Interact. doi:10.1094/MPMI-01-16-0010-R
  7. L.Mita, L. Grumiro, S. Rossi, C. Bianco, R. Defez, P. Gallo, D.G. Mita, N. Diano (2015). Bisphenol A removal by a Pseudomonas aeruginosa immobilized on granular activated carbon and operating in a fluidized bed reactor. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 291: 129-135. doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2015.02.072
  8. Bianco, B. Senatore, S. Arbucci, G. Pieraccini, and R. Defez (2014). Modulation of endogenous indole-3-acetic acid biosynthesis in bacteroids within Medicago sativa nodules.Appl Environ Microbiol. 80 (14): 4286-4293. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00597-14.
  9. Bianco, and R. Defez (2010). Improvement of phosphate solubilization and Medicago plant yield by an indole-3-acetic acid-overproducing strain of Sinorhizobium meliloti. Appl Environ Microbiol. 76: 4626-4632. doi:10.1128/AEM.02756-09

Selected Publications

(full list available at CNR People)

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