Thematic Area 5 - BIOSCIENCES

Sampling at Don Juan Pond - East Antarctic region © Angelo Odetti - PNRA The Biosciences thematic area deals with the study of the biosphere in polar areas at different levels of biological complexity, from molecules to ecosystems and up to biomes. In particular, the attention is focused on the description and quantification of the biodiversity of the organisms that inhabit polar environments, to evaluate their structural and functional complexity. In this regard, scenarios of population shifts, changes in biodiversity and biogeochemical processes deriving from climate change and human impact are evaluated. The main interest is focused on the interactions between biological and ecological aspects, together with abiotic processes and effects on the carbon cycle and energy flows in the polar regions. Further fields of investigation concern the research of biomolecules of microbial origin, the ability of polar microorganisms to degrade organic contaminants and astrobiological aspects linked to life in extreme environments.
The central themes of the research carried out within the Biosciences Thematic Area are (1) structural and functional organization of polar ecosystems and dynamics of populations and communities; (2) response of individuals, populations and communities to external influences of climatic and anthropogenic origin (including loss and fragmentation of habitat, withdrawal, extraction, pollution, etc.); (3) biotechnological implications deriving from adaptation to low temperatures and/or other physical-chemical factors.
Salinity measurement at Don Juan Pond - East Antarctic region © Angelo Odetti - PNRA Research objectives include:
• the study of structural and functional diversity and the ecophysiology of polar organisms, to shed light on the limits of adaptation, also in relation to climate change and human impacts;
• the study of biogeochemistry and ecology in marine and terrestrial habitats at the Poles, including the environmental factors controlling biological interactions;
• the estimation of the biotechnological potential of organisms adapted to life at low temperatures and/or other physical-chemical factors;
• the exploration of behavior and evolution of polar ecosystems, through spatial-temporal analyses of ecological processes;
• the management and conservation of polar marine resources;
• comparison between trends observed in polar areas and middle latitudes. The Thematic Area Biosciences is organized into the 4 sections, i.e. Biodiversity and adaptation, Biogeochemistry, Biotechnology and Astrobiology.


Main ERC Panels:
• LS8 - Environmental Biology, Ecology and Evolution
• LS9 - Biotechnology and Biosystems Engineering
• PE10 - Earth System Science
Referents: Angelina Lo Giudice, Mario La Mesa, Cairns Warren Raymond Lee
Contact: info-biosciences AT


ministero Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale
L'Italia e l’Artico
L’Italia e l’Antartide

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