Novel metabolic pathways supporting life in the deep sea:

During his PhD, Alessandro Garritano aims to better understand how symbionts support life in the deep sea. His project aims to explore microbiomes and their metabolic activities in a deep-sea petrol extraction site. He will focus particularly on the microbiomes that are living in symbiotic relationships with corals and sponges, the major habitat-forming organisms in the deep sea. Coral reefs and sponge gardens appear to survive and grow very well close to these areas and we hypothesize that this is due to unique metabolic capabilities of the symbiont microbiomes. In this sense, it is postulated that the microbiomes can utilize “unusual” carbon and energy sources as well as different carbon fixation pathways to convert those into useful nutrients and energy for the coral and sponge host.

Biological production of H2 and CH4 using POME as raw material:

In his Masters, Alessandro Garritano focused on the anaerobic fermentation of palm oil mill wastewater (POME) using a mixed microbial consortium. The aim was to produce hydrogen and methane from POME in order to generate energy in a decentralized manner for remote areas in Brazil. Amongst his achievements, he developed a gas chromatography method to quantify free fatty acids as well as started a new line of research in my former lab aiming the production of methane from the post-fermentation media after the initial hydrogen production. Furthermore, he discovered that a pre-hydrolysis step with an enzimatic prepataion of Ricinus communis can greatly increase hydrogen yield for most agro-industrial wastewaters.