Prof. Laura Zucconi

Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences

University of Tuscia

Viterbo – Italy

zucconi@unitus.it

Scopus id: 57205699408

Orcid ID

WoS id U-9781-2018  

Born in Rome in 1960, graduated (110 cum laude) in 1982 in Biology at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. Curator of the Herbarium Museum at the University of Rome (1986-1989), Curator of the Botanical Garden (1989-1992) and then Researcher (1992-2005) at the University of Tuscia, Viterbo. Associate Professor (ssd BIO03) at the University of Tuscia, Viterbo (I) (2005-present). Positively evaluated (years 2012 and 2018) as Full Professor (scientific sector 05 / A1-Botany).

Teacher of Botany for the Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences (9 CFU) and Biology for the Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Heritage Conservation and Restoration (8 CFU). 

Institutional activities

2020 (November) - present: Head of the University Museum Network (member from 2009).

2012-2021: Delegate of the Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences in the Management Committee of the Agricultural firm of the University

2012-2021: Technical-scientific head at both the Botanical Gardens and the Germplasm Bank.

August 2018 - present – Head of the Section of Botany Applied to Cultural Heritages of the Soil and Applied Mycology Lab. Responsible of researches related to identify the biodeteriogen agents of cultural heritage, within the Regione Lazio's Cultural Heritage Technological District (https://www.dtclazio.it/laboratori/laboratorio-di-botanica-sistematica-e-micologia-sezione-botanica-applicata-ai-beni).

2010-2013: Member of the Research Committee of the University, appointed as Vice-President 

2012-present: Member of the Academic Board of the PhD in Ecology and sustainable management of environmental resources

1999-2012: Member of the Academic Board of the PhD in Biological Evolution and Biochemistry, appointed as Coordinator (2009-2012).     

2016-2018: Member of the Department Committee as delegate of Associate Professors.

2000-2009: Delegate of the Faculty in the Technical and Scientific Committee of the Centre for the Library of the Faculty.

2007-2016: Member of the Teaching Committee for Environmental Sciences.
2001-2005: Member of the Academic Senate; in involved in the Working Group constituted for proposing adjustments to the University Regulation, elaborating a draft of the “University Museum System” Regulation.

2001-2003: Delegate of the Faculty, in the Technical Committee of the Regional Park of the Castelli Romani.

1990-1996: Component of the Mycological Working Group Board within the Italian Botanical Society-

1992-1996: Member of the Faculty Council, and in the Founding and Research Committee of the Faculty (1992-1993).

Scientific Expeditions

She joined the XIX (2003-2004), XXVI (2010-2011), XXXI (2015-2016), XXXIII (2017- 2018), XXXV (2019-2020), and XXXVII Italian Antarctic Expeditions; she was appointed by the Italian National Research Council (CNR) as Scientific Coordinator of the research activities carried out at the Italian Base during the XXVI, XXXV, and XXXVII Expeditions. She joined the 2014 Arctic expedition (Ny-Ålesund) (Aug-Sept 2014) within the WHYCRUST project funded by PNRA.

She won a grant by the CNR for a one month (September 1993) stay at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris).

Member of a Research expedition in the Ivory Coast tropical forest organized by the Botanical Garden Institute of Rome (1989).

Other qualifications

October 2021 - Member of the Editorial Board of Section ‘Extreme Microbiology’ in Frontiers in Microbiology.

September 2021 – Speaker at the International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Symposium (IBBS18), 6-9 September

2121 March – Co-convener for the ASSW2021 (Arctic Science Summer Week 2021, https://assw2021.pt/), for the session 44 "Effect of environmental parameters on polar terrestrial microbial communities”, within the theme “Unravelling Arctic Ecosystem Dynamics”.

2020 (September) - present: Advisory Board Member of ‘Challenges' (MDPI)

2020 September-present: Guest Associate Editor in Biology by MDPI, for the Research Topic ‘Diversity of Soil Fungal Communities’.

2020 (April - December): Guest Associate Editor in Extreme Microbiology, Frontier in Microbiology, for the Research Topic ‘Microbiology of polar and Alpine soils’.

2020 February-present: Member of the Editorial Board for the ‘Environmental Microbiology’ section of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

2017: Took part in Hearing by the Agriculture Commission of the Chamber of Deputies for the examination of a proposed Law on "Discipline of cultivation, harvesting and first processing of medicinal plants".

2012-2015: Member of the Mole National Park Research Center (Ghana)

2011: Affiliated to the Institute of Agro-Environmental and Forestry Biology (IBAF) of the National Research Council of Porano (TR).

2011: Joined the “Korea-Italy Workshop on Polar Science” at KOPRI (Korea Polar Research Institute, Incheon, Seoul) as Italian Delegate of the Polar Terrestrial Biology, to discuss scientific results gained in different fields.

2004-2005: Central Italy’s coordinator of the Checklist of Italian fungi, in the framework of an agreement between the Italian Ministry of the Environment and the Tuscia University.

Reviewer for many international journals and evaluator of Antarctic Research projects for the New Zealand Antarctic Research Committee and the Chilean Antarctic Institute.

Membership of the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA), the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), The Italian Botanical Society, the International Permafrost Association (IPA).

Research activities 

Her scientific activity focuses on microbial ecology, in particular on Antarctic soil and cryptoendolithic communities distribution, biodiversity and adaptation to different stresses. In the last years, her research is being extended in the analysis of soil microbial communities through molecular approaches to describe the effects of environmental conditions on their composition, functionality and adaptability. Her research activities range among different fields: systematic and taxonomy of filamentous fungi, ultrastructural morphology, molecular biology, adaptive responses to stress conditions – including real and simulated space conditions – of both single species and whole fungal communities. Further researches activity is focused on heavy metal bioaccumulation in fungi, biomonitoring of environmental quality using epiphytic lichens, the morphological, molecular and physiological characterization of the cultural heritage biodeterioration agents, germination ability of seeds of threatened plant species.

Research Projects 

2021-2022 – Project “RIVALSA - An integrated approach for revegetation of coastal dunes altered by alien species”, Principal Investigator, funded by the Latium Region. € 150.000

2019-2021 – Project: Exploring the diversity of soil microbes and their biomolecules in Victoria Land. Role: Responsible for a Research Unit (PI: S. Tosi), funded by: National Program of Antarctic Researches. Budget: 60.000 euros.

2015-2019 – Project: Monitoring of nanoclimatic parameters in Antarctic cryptoendolithic communities. Role: Principal Investigator, funded by: National Program of Antarctic Researches, Budget 226.000 euros

2017- Project: COMICS-G Effects of Climate change On Microbial Community of Soil in Greenland. Role: Principal Investigator, funded by: INTERACT, founded by EU, Budget 6400 euros

2014-2016 – Project: Structure, function, and development of Biological Soil Crusts (BSC) in polar regions: a contribution to understand the ecological role of BSC at the planetary scale (WHYCRUST), Role: Responsible for a Research Unit (PI: S. Ventura), funded by: National Program of Antarctic Researches, Budget 11.000 euros

2010-2012 – Project: Biodiversity and evolution of meristematic fungi of the rocks in polar environments: possible bioindicators of environmental change and anthropogenic impact, Role: Principal Investigator, funded by: National Program of Antarctic Researches, Budget 60.000 euros

2005-2007 – Project: Permafrost and Climate change in Antarctica. Role: Responsible for a Research Unit (PI: M. Guglielmin), funded by: National Program of Antarctic Researches, Budget 15.000 euros

Also involved, as component of the Research team, in the following project:

2013-2016 – The ESA LIFE Experiment Lichens and Fungi Experiments of (PI S. Onofri), in the framework of which samples of fungi and lichens have been sent to the International Space Station and exposed 1.5 years outside the space laboratory Columbus ESA.

2013-2016 – The ESA BIOMEX (BIOlogy and Mars EXperiment) and the ASI BIOMEX-MCF projects Experiment on the International Space Stations for tracking biosignatures on martian and lunar rock analogs (PI Prof. S. Onofri).

2013-2016 – The ASI E-GEM Geomicrobiology for Space exploration  project, to study the effects of microgravity conditions on rock-microorganisms (PI Prof. S. Onofri).

2016-2019 – Involved in the National Research project (PRIN): Responses of sensitive alpine ecosystems to climate change (RESACC) (PI: S. Onofri)

2010-2011 – Involved in the National research project (PRIN): Art and rupestrian habitat in Cappadocia (Turkey) and in Central and Southern Italy. Rock, buried architecture, painting: knowledge, conservation and valorization (PI: M.C. Andaloro).

2009-2011 – Coordinator of monitoring by lichens the environmental quality of the area surrounding the coal-fired power station of Torre Valdaliga Nord, within an agreement between the Department (DEB) and the Consortium for the Management of the Environmental Observatory (Responsible Prof. G. Nascetti).

2008-2010 – She joined the project Autochthonous mycorrhized plants to increase the carbon link capability within an agreement between the Ecological Sciences Dep. and the University of Molise (PI: Prof. C. Blasi), founded by Italian Ministry of the Environment.

2010-2011 – She collaborated with the Faculty of Conservation of Cultural Heritage of University of Tuscia, for the determination of the biodeteriogenous agents within a research project funded by the Lazio Region (PI M.C. Andaloro).

2002 – She collaborated with the United Nations Environment Programme to determine uranium accumulated in lichen thalli after the NATO conflict in the Balkan area.

Responsible, as technical-scientific head of the Botanical Garden and the Germplasm Bank, of the following projects:

2017-2019 – Research agreement between the Germplasm Bank and the Majella National Park, C action (in vitro propagation) within the Life15 NAT/IT/000946 Floranet, Role: Joint Coordinator, Budget 15.000 euros.

2017-2018 – Research agreement between the Germplasm Bank and the Parco Regionale Bracciano-Martignano for the Ex-situ conservation and in-vitro propagation of Isoetes sabatina. Role: Principal Investigator, budget 30.000 euros.

2016-2018 – Research agreement between the Germplasm Bank and the Ente di Gestione per i Parchi e la Biodiversità Romagna: Conservation of ferns (Pteridophyta) and orchids (Orchidaceae) in the Vena del Gesso Romagnola Park, Role: Joint Coordinator, funded by: Regione Emilia-Romagna 2014-2015, Budget 12.500 euros.

2015-2018 – Research agreement between the Botanical Garden and the ‘Bagnaccio’ Society for the naturalistic recovery of a degraded area, for the ex-situ conservation of native autochthonous plant species Role: Responsible of the project, budget 12.000 euros.

2013-2014 – Responsible of two projects for the realization of an equipped pat at the Botanical Garden for blind and visually impaired, and for an equipped lab for disabled people. Funded by the Bank of Italy.

2012-2014 – Project: Ex-situ conservation of spontaneous orchids: teaching and divulgation. Role: Principal Investigator, funded by: MIUR 2012 (L. 6/2000).