Projects and Research

My current work lays at the interface between microbial ecology and microbial evolution. I integrate classic microbiology techniques with cutting-the-edge molecular and computational tools in order to investigate the role of microbes in shaping the environment, their interactions with abiotic factors and the drivers of evolution and adaptation.

Extreme environments are hot spots of prokaryotic diversity and they are believed to significantly contribute to total biogeochemical budgets. Hydrothermal vents and geothermal environments contribute substantially to the ocean heat-pump, to the emissions of greenhouse gases and they are fundamental for the availability of biologically relevant trace elements in the oceans. Furthermore, the conditions found in geothermal systems could resemble those in which life originated, and the first life forms may have likely been thermophilic as well as chemolithoautotrophic (read a recent article on about the relevance of our research for the Origin of Life). Therefore, the study of the prokaryotic diversity in geothermal environments potentially holds the key to a better understanding of the functioning of our planet, both in an ecological and evolutionary context.

More specifically at the moment I am working on: i) the genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic of the anaerobic thermophilic chemolithoautotroph Thermovibrio ammonificans; ii) the reconstruction of the emergence and evolution of early carbon fixation in deep-branching thermophiles; iii) the induction of latent prophage in vent thermophiles pure cultures; and iv) the taxonomic and functional diversity of the microbial mats of the shallow-water hydrothermal vents of Milos Island, Greece.

I am also collaborating on several side projects, including the comparative transcriptomic of Desulfurispirillum indicum grown under different electron acceptor, the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in deep-sea environments, and the prokaryotic diversity of different geothermal environments, ranging from Yellowstone National Park to the Azores.

Here is a list of present and past funded project, for which I am/was (Co)-PI or to which I participated. The list is divided in Current and Past projects. Contact me in case you are interested in having more info!


Current projects:

2016 Barry P (PI), de Moor M, Giovannelli D, Hummer D, Lloyd K, Lopez T and Pratt K (Co-PIs). Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Biology Meets Subduction: A Collaborative and Multi-disciplinary Deep Carbon Field Initiative”

2016 Colwell R (PI) , Giovannelli D, Morgan L, Pratt K, Reysenbach AL, Shanks P (Co-PIs). Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The second Deep Carbon Observatory Summer School

2015 Vetriani C (PI), Fostoukos D (PI) and Giovannelli D (Co-PI). NSF Molecular and Cellular Biosciences: Collaborative Research “Carbon fixation, anaerobic respiration and ROS detoxification in the anaerobic vent bacterium, Thermovibrio ammonificans”

2015 Collaborator: NASA Exobiology Exo/Evo program (Frank Robb and Costantino Vetriani PIs): Sentinel Microbes that Utilize Carbon Monoxide as Energy and Carbon Source

2014 Bongioni L (PI), Viaroli P, Sfriso A, Pallavicini A, Giovannelli D (Co-Pis). Lifewatch-Italy, distributed Laboratory of Molecular Biodiversity, “Responses of benthic microbial diversity and functioning to the recent invasion of Gracilaria vermiculophylla in the lagoon of Venice


Past Projects

2013 C-DEBI postdoctoral fellowship for the study of “Alternative carbon fixation strategies in Thermovibrio ammonificans: a model system to study energy limitation in the deep biosphere”

2011 – 2014. Collaborator: NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity, Collaborative Research (Costantino Vetriani, S. Sievert and D. Foustoukos): An integrated study of energy metabolism, carbon fixation, and colonization mechanisms in chemosynthetic microbial communities at deep-sea vents

2011 – 2014. Collaborator: NSF Biological Oceanography, Collaborative Research (Costantino Vetriani, S. Sievert and D. Foustoukos): Autotrophic carbon fixation at a shallow-water hydrothermal system: Constraining microbial activity, isotopic and geochemical regimes

2014 Giovannelli D (PI), Cox A, Hummer D, Pratt K, Sheik C, Thomas D, Viveiros F (Co-Pis). Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The second Deep Carbon Observatory Early Career Scientist Workshop

2010 Giovannelli D (PI). PNRA (National Antarctic Research Program of Italy) Young Researcher Project “Diversity and functioning of Prokaryotic communities in shallow Antarctic waters, pre and post ice melting” 2010/C1.03

20082010. Collaborator: European Science Foundation project BIOFUN (BIOdiversity and ecosystem FUNctioning in deep seas)

20062008. Collaborator: EU founded project REEFRES (Developing Ubiquitous Restoration Practices for Indo-Pacific Coral Reefs; FPV1)