Plant nutrition and biochemistry


  • Crop Science and Biotechnology (SBPC)


The research group, disciplinary scientific sector of Agricultural Chemistry, has acquired over the years specific expertise in the field of plant nutrition and stress response, in particular by developing the research on soil-plant relationships and the study of soil-root interface (rhizosphere). This allowed the group to achieve a good degree of recognition in the international scientific scene. Over time, the experimental approaches concerning both methods for growing plant material (model plants and plants of agricultural interest) and analytical methods have been updated; the combination of traditional chemical and biochemical methods with molecular ones, allows an integrated analysis of the studied processes at physiological, biochemical and molecular level. The research activity is focused, in particular, on the definition of the functioning and regulatory aspects of the molecular mechanisms responsible for the acquisition of nutritive elements in plants and the abiotic and biotic stress conditions that may affect them, with the aim of improving the efficient use of nutrients and crop yield of the agricultural product in terms of quantity and quality. The nutritional processes are described considering the role of membrane activities (enzymes and solute transporters) and the signal functions of mineral nutrients with particular attention to nutritional imbalance conditions. The soil-plant relationship is studied considering: a) the release of exudates from the roots and their impact on the chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology of the rhizosphere; b) the role of exogenous modulators (e.g. soil humic substances, heavy metals, biostimulants) on the functionality of nutrient acquisition mechanisms in the roots; c) the impact on plant nutrition resulting from the use of synthetic substances in agriculture, such as fertilizer additives (e.g. urease and nitrification inhibitors). The role of stress is addressed by considering: a) nutrient transport, distribution and storage mechanisms at the sites of use, as well as b) the control of cellular ionic homeostasis in conditions of nutritional imbalance and/or biotic stress.

Research subjects

  • Meccanismi di acquisizione di macronutrienti (azoto, fosforo, zolfo) e micronutrienti (ferro, rame) in piante modello e coltivate.
  • Biologia molecolare e regolazione del trasporto, distribuzione e stoccaggio di nutrienti nei siti di utilizzazione.
  • Meccanismi coinvolti nel rilascio di essudati radicali e mobilizzazione di nutrienti (fosforo, ferro) nella rizosfera.
  • Regolazione delle attività di membrana da parte di componenti della sostanza organica umificata isolata da matrici diverse (suolo, acqua, torba) e composti biostimolanti.
  • Funzionamento e regolazione dei meccanismi coinvolti nelle risposte adattative agli stress abiotici in piante modello e coltivate.
  • Controllo dell'omeostasi ionica cellulare in condizioni di stress, anche di natura biotica.
  • Ottimizzazione dei sistemi di allevamento fuori suolo (idroponica) di piante modello e coltivate.

ERC panels

  • LS9_8 Applied plant sciences, plant breeding, agroecology and soil biology
  • LS9_5 Food biotechnology and bioengineering
  • LS9_4 Microbial biotechnology and bioengineering
  • LS2_7 Transcriptomics


  • rhizosphere, plant nutrition, nutrient mobilization, nitrogen acquisition, phosphorous acquisition
  • sulfur acquisition, iron acquisition, copper acquisition, transporter
  • transmembrane transport, root exudate, abiotic stress, biotic stress
  • plant-soil interaction, humic substances, hydroponic cultivation
  • nutrient use efficiency, transcriptomic analyses, ionomic analyses


Roberto PINTON
Simonetta SANTI