Laura Zucconi

Laura Zucconi
Tuscia University | Tuscia · Department of Biological and Ecological Sciences DEB

Bachelor of Biology

About

151
Publications
47,001
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
4,038
Citations
Introduction
Microbiology of Polar and Alpine Environments Botany Applied to Cultural Heritage

Publications

Publications (151)
Article
Two rover missions to Mars aim to detect biomolecules as a sign of extinct or extant life with, among other instruments , Raman spectrometers. However, there are many unknowns about the stability of Raman-detectable bio-molecules in the martian environment, clouding the interpretation of the results. To quantify Raman-detectable biomolecule stabili...
Presentation
The McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDVs), the widest permanently ice-free area of Antarctica, are considered one of the closest terrestrial analogues of the Martian environment. In particular, dry permafrost, unique of MDVs on Earth, is ubiquitous in the northern hemisphere of Mars. Although endolithic communities were assumed to be the predominant life form...
Article
The impact of global warming on biological communities colonizing European alpine ecosystems was recently studied. Hexagonal open top chambers (OTCs) were used for simulating a short‐term in situ warming (estimated around 1°C) in some alpine soils to predict the impact of ongoing climate change on resident microbial communities. Total microbial DNA...
Article
Full-text available
Wall paintings have been a cultural expression of human creativity throughout history. Their degradation or destruction represents a loss to the world’s cultural heritage, and fungi have been identified as a major contributor to their decay. We provide a critical review of fungi isolated from worldwide wall paintings between 1961–2021. One-hundred...
Article
As the European Alps are experiencing a strong climate warming; this study analyzed the soil microbiome at different altitudes and among different vegetation types at the Stelvio Pass (Italian Alps), aiming to i) characterize the composition and functional potential of the microbiome of soils and their gene expression during the peak vegetative sta...
Article
Full-text available
Identifying species involved in biodeterioration processes is helpful, however further effort is needed to assess their ecological requirements and actual activity. Black fungi (BF) represent one of the most underestimated threats to stone cultural heritage in the Mediterranean basin; they are difficult to kill or remove due to their ability to gro...
Article
Full-text available
Here, successful germination protocols for the following three annual Salsola species are presented: Salsola soda (= Soda inermis), S. squarrosa subsp. controversa, and S. tragus subsp. tragus. It is the first report of germination data for the three species for Italy. Seeds were collected in beaches and dunes along the Tyrrhenian coasts in Sicily...
Article
Mars is a primary target of astrobiological interest: its past environmental conditions may have been favourable to the emergence of a prebiotic chemistry and, potentially, biological activity. In situ exploration is currently underway at the Mars surface, and the subsurface (2 m depth) will be explored in the future ESA ExoMars mission. In this co...
Article
Full-text available
Human-made hydrocarbon-rich environments are important reservoirs of microorganisms with specific degrading abilities and pathogenic potential. In particular, black fungi are of great interest, but their presence in the environment is frequently underestimated because they are difficult to isolate. In the frame of a biodiversity study from fuel-con...
Article
Ice-free areas of Victoria Land, in Antarctica, are characterized by different terrestrial ecosystems, that are dominated by microorganisms supporting highly adapted communities. Despite the unique conditions of these ecosystems, reports on their bacterial diversity are still fragmentary. From this perspective, 60 samples from 14 localities were an...
Article
Full-text available
Roots can produce mechanical and chemical alterations to building structures, especially in the case of underground historical artifacts. In archaeological sites, where vegetation plays the dual role of naturalistic relevance and potential threat, trees and bushes are under supervision. No customized measures can be taken against herbaceous plants...
Article
Full-text available
In Victoria Land, Antarctica, ice-free areas are restricted to coastal regions and dominate the landscape of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. These two environments are subjected to different pressures that determine the establishment of highly adapted fungal communities. Within the kingdom of fungi, filamentous, yeasts and meristematic/microcolonial growt...
Article
Soil enzymatic activity was assessed in the Stelvio Pass area (Italian Central Alps) aiming to define the possible effects of climate change on microbial functioning. Two sites at two different elevations were chosen, a subalpine (2239 m) and an alpine belt (2604-2624 m), with mean annual air temperature differing by almost 3 °C, coherent with the...
Article
Subterranean Cultural Heritage sites are frequently subject to biological colonization due to the high levels of humidity, even in conditions of low irradiance and oligotrophy. Here microorganisms form complex communities that may be dangerous through mineral precipitation, through the softening of materials and also causing frequent surface discol...
Article
The McMurdo Dry Valleys surface is mainly constituted from unconsolidated permafrost. Despite the combination of cold and dry conditions, transiently wetted soils close to lake edges are hotspots of intense biological activity, that can support the surrounding soil ecosystems in such extreme environments. These soils host simple microbial communiti...
Article
Full-text available
In the last few years, many microfungi—including plant-associated species—have been reported from various habitats and substrates in Italy. In this study of pleosporalean fungi, we researched terrestrial habitats in the Provinces of Arezzo (Tuscany region), Forlì-Cesena and Ravenna (Emilia-Romagna region) in Italy. Our research on Italian pleospora...
Chapter
The cryptoendolithic endemic black fungus Cryomyces antarcticus was first isolated from sandstone collected at Linnaeus Terrace, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica, by E.I. Friedmann in 1982, but published as a new species and genus in 2005. The McMurdo Dry Valleys are the coldest hyperarid desert on Earth and one of the best t...
Article
Full-text available
Here, successful germination protocols for the following four annual pansies are presented: Viola arvensis subsp. arvensis, V. hymettia, V. kitaibeliana, and V. tricolor subsp. tricolor. Seeds were collected mainly in Central Italy (Tuscany, Umbria, and Latium) and in Sicily. The germination ability was tested at the Tuscia Germplasm Bank (BGT) usi...
Article
Full-text available
Antarctica, one of the harshest environments in the world, has been successfully colonized by extremophilic, psychrophilic, and psychrotolerant microorganisms, facing a range of extreme conditions. Fungi are the most diverse taxon in the Antarctic ecosystems, including soils. Genetic adaptation to this environment results in the synthesis of a rang...
Article
Soil microbiomes within oligotrophic cold deserts are extraordinarily diverse. Increasingly, oligotrophic sites with low levels of phototrophic primary producers are reported, leading researchers to question their carbon and energy sources. A novel microbial carbon fixation process termed atmospheric chemosynthesis recently filled this gap as it...
Article
Five yeast strains were isolated from soil and sediments collected from Alps and Apennines glaciers during sampling campaigns carried out in summer 2007 and 2017, respectively. Based on morphological and physiological tests and on phylogenetic analyses reconstructed with ITS and D1/D2 sequences, the five strains were considered to belong to two rel...
Article
Full-text available
Isoëtes sabatina is an aquatic quillwort endemic to Italy. It is one of the rarest quillworts in Europe, and is critically endangered due to restricted range and to the continuous decline of both population and habitat quality. This study aims to develop an optimized protocol to reproduce and grow I. sabatina sporelings. Mature and immature megaspo...
Article
Climate warming in Greenland is facilitating the expansion of shrubs across wide areas of tundra. Given the close association between plants and soil microorganisms and the important role of soil bacteria in ecosystem functioning, it is of utmost importance to characterize microbial communities of arctic soil habitats and assess the influence of pl...
Article
Full-text available
The endolithic niche represents an ultimate refuge to microorganisms in the Mars-like environment of the Antarctic desert. In an era of rapid global change and desertification, the interest in these border ecosystems is increasing due to speculation on how they maintain balance and functionality at the dry limits of life. To assure a reliable estim...
Article
A perennially frozen lake at Boulder Clay site (Victoria Land, Antarctica), characterized by the presence of frost mounds, have been selected as an in‐situ model for ecological studies. Different samples of permafrost, glacier ice and brines have been studied as a unique habitat system. An additional sample of brines (collected in another frozen la...
Article
Ice-free regions in coastal areas of Victoria Land, Antarctica, are patchily distributed, limited in extent and characterized by a simple vegetation of lichens and mosses, growing only for a short period during the austral summer. These organisms are associated with soil particles and microorganisms (e.g., algae, microfungi and bacteria) to make up...
Article
The harsh environmental conditions of the ice-free regions of Continental Antarctica are considered one of the closest Martian analogues on Earth. There, rocks play a pivotal role as substratum for life and endolithism represents a primary habitat for microorganisms when external environmental conditions become incompatible with active life on rock...
Article
Full-text available
Describing the total biodiversity of an environmental metacommunity is challenging due to the presence of cryptic and rare species and incompletely described taxonomy. How many samples to collect is a common issue that faces ecologists when designing fieldwork sampling. Nowadays, high-throughput sequencing allows examination of large numbers of sam...
Article
The present contribution is related to the project “Italian loci classici census”, promoted by the Italian Botanical Society and aimed at recognizing and typifying all the names of the taxa described from Italy and their loci classici, in order to increase their systematic knowledge and promote further studies (Domina et al. 2012; Brundu et al. 201...
Article
Full-text available
The microbial communities that inhabit lithic niches inside sandstone in the Antarctic McMurdo Dry Valleys of life’s limits on Earth. The cryptoendolithic communities survive in these ice-free areas that have the lowest temperatures on Earth coupled with strong thermal fluctuations, extreme aridity, oligotrophy and high levels of solar and UV radia...
Article
Full-text available
Successful germination protocols for the following six dune species are presented: Centaurea sphaerocephala subsp. sphaerocephala, Jacobaea maritima subsp. maritima, Matthiola sinuata, Medicago marina, Pancratium maritimum, and Silene canescens. Seeds were collected in sand dunes along the Tyrrhenian coasts in south Tuscany and north Latium (centra...
Article
Fungi are the most abundant and one of the most diverse components of arctic soil ecosystems, where they are fundamental drivers of plant nutrient acquisition and recycling. Nevertheless, few studies have focused on the factors driving the diversity and functionality of fungal communities associated with these ecosystems, especially in the scope of...
Article
Full-text available
Fungi are the most abundant and one of the most diverse components of arctic soil ecosystems, where they are fundamental drivers of plant nutrient acquisition and recycling. Nevertheless, few studies have focused on the factors driving the diversity and functionality of fungal communities associated with these ecosystems, especially in the scope of...
Article
Endolithic growth within rocks is a critical adaptation of microbes living in harsh environments where exposure to extreme temperature, radiation, and desiccation limits the predominant life‐forms, such as in the ice‐free regions of Continental Antarctica. The microbial diversity of the endolithic communities in these areas has been sparsely examin...
Preprint
Describing the total biodiversity of an environmental metacommunity is challenging due to the presence of cryptic and rare species and incompletely described taxonomy. How many samples to collect is a common issue faces ecologists when designing fieldwork sampling: collecting many samples may indeed capture the whole metacommunity structure, but ca...
Preprint
Full-text available
The harsh environmental conditions of the ice-free regions of Continental Antarctica are considered one of the closest Martian analogues on Earth. There, rocks play a pivotal role as substratum for life and endolithism represents a primary habitat for microorganisms when external environmental conditions become incompatible with active life on rock...
Article
Full-text available
A 30.43-Mb draft genome sequence with 10,355 predicted protein-coding genes was produced for the ascomycete fungus Exophiala mesophila strain CCFEE 6314, a black yeast isolated from Antarctic cryptoendolithic communities. The sequence will be of importance for identifying differences among extremophiles and mesophiles and cataloguing the global pop...
Article
Full-text available
Good‐quality dry seeds of some orchids have the potential to survive for decades under conventional seed‐bank conditions, but further research is needed to fill existing gaps in knowledge regarding seed behaviour under long‐term dry storage. The objectives of this study were to evaluate germination ability on two asymbiotic culture media with diffe...
Article
The need to optimize seed banking efforts has stimulated research for rapid methods to estimate quality in seed-lots. For terrestrial orchids, viability testing using tetrazolium (TTC) staining requires chemical scarification, as seeds have an impermeable testa. Different seed-coat permeability may affect TTC staining, thus affecting the results. T...
Article
Full-text available
BIOMEX (BIOlogy and Mars EXperiment) is an ESA/Roscosmos space exposure experiment housed within the exposure facility EXPOSE-R2 outside the Zvezda module on the International Space Station (ISS). The design of the multiuser facility supports—among others—the BIOMEX investigations into the stability and level of degradation of space-exposed biosign...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Cryptoendolithic microbial communities, discovered in the extremely cold, hyper-arid McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica (Friedmann 1982), the most similar terrestrial environments to Mars surface (Wynn-Williams and Edwards 2000; Onofri et al., 2004), have been considered as a candidate in supporting the search of life in Mars exploration. In such ha...
Article
The search for life beyond Earth involves investigation into the responses of model organisms to the deleterious effects of space. In the frame of the BIOlogy and Mars Experiment, as part of the European Space Agency (ESA) space mission EXPOSE-R2 in low Earth orbit (LEO), dried colonies of the Antarctic cryptoendolithic black fungus Cryomyces antar...
Article
Despite living organisms are not exposed to acute ionizing radiation under natural conditions, some exhibit a high radiation resistance. Understanding this phenomenon is important for assessing the impact of radiation-related accidents, occupational exposures and space missions. In this context, in this study we analyzed the effect of gamma rays on...
Article
The BIOMEX (BIOlogy and Mars Experiment) is part of the European Space Agency (ESA) space mission EXPOSE-R2 in Low-Earth Orbit, devoted to exposing microorganisms for 1.5 years to space and simulated Mars conditions on the International Space Station. In preparing this mission, dried colonies of the Antarctic cryptoendolithic black fungus Cryomyces...
Article
Full-text available
The black fungi Cryomyces antarcticus and Cryomyces minteri are highly melanized and are resilient to cold, ultra-violet, ionizing radiation and other extreme conditions. These microorganisms were isolated from cryptoendolithic microbial communities in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (Antarctica) and studied in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), using the EXPOSE-E fac...
Article
Full-text available
Antarctic cryptoendolithic microbial communities dominate ice-free areas of continental Antarctica, among the harshest environments on Earth. The endolithic lifestyle is a remarkable adaptation to the exceptional environmental extremes of this area, which is considered the closest terrestrial example to conditions on Mars. Recent efforts have attem...
Article
Full-text available
Endolithic growth is one of the most spectacular microbial adaptations to extreme environmental constraints and the predominant life-form in the ice-free areas of Continental Antarctica. Although Antarctic endolithic microbial communities are known to host among the most resistant and extreme-adapted organisms, our knowledge on microbial diversity...
Article
Full-text available
Brines are hypersaline solutions which have been found within the Antarctic permafrost from the Tarn Flat area (Northern Victoria Land). Here, an investigation on the possible presence and diversity of fungal life within those peculiar ecosystems has been carried out for the first time. Brines samples were collected at 4- and 5-meter depths (TF1 an...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to analyze how protracted exposure to X-rays delivered at low dose rates of 0.0032–0.052 kGy/h affects the survival and metabolic activity of two microfungi capable of melanogenesis: fast-growing Cryptococcus neoformans (CN) and slow-growing Cryomyces antarcticus (CA). Melanized CN and CA cells survived the protracted expo...
Article
Full-text available
A wide sampling of rocks, colonized by microbial epi–endolithic communities, was performed along an altitudinal gradient from sea level to 3600 m asl and sea distance from the coast to 100 km inland along the Victoria Land Coast, Antarctica. Seventy-two rock samples of different typology, representative of the entire survey, were selected and studi...
Article
The Antarctic black meristematic fungus Cryomyces antarcticus CCFEE 515 occurs endolithically in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, one of the best analogue for Mars environment on Earth. To date, this fungus is considered one of the best eukaryotic models for astrobiological studies and has been repeatedly selected for space experiments in the...
Article
Full-text available
Knowledge of the relationships and thus the classification of fungi, has developed rapidly with increasingly widespread use of molecular techniques, over the past 10–15 years, and continues to accelerate. Several genera have been found to be polyphyletic, and their generic concepts have subsequently been emended. New names have thus been introduced...
Article
In restoration and conservation practices, biocide treatments are considered one of the most practical approaches to remove biological colonization on artworks, including stone. Numerous studies have focused on the short- and long-term effects of these treatments and recently many alternative methods to reduce their potential hazards to human healt...
Article
Full-text available
Space represents an extremely harmful environment for life and survival of terrestrial organisms. In the last decades, a considerable deal of attention was paid to characterize the effects of spaceflight relevant radiation on various model organisms. The aim of this study was to test the survival capacity of the cryptoendolithic black fungus Cryomy...
Article
Full-text available
The draft genome sequences of Rachicladosporium antarcticum CCFEE 5527 and Rachicladosporium sp. CCFEE 5018 are the first sequenced genomes from this genus, which comprises rock-inhabiting fungi. These endolithic strains were isolated from inside rocks collected from the Antarctic Peninsula and Battleship Promontory (McMurdo Dry Valleys), Antarctic...
Article
Full-text available
The search for traces of extinct or extant life in extraterrestrial environments is one of the main goals for astrobiologists; due to their ability to withstand stress producing conditions, extremophiles are perfect candidates for astrobiological studies. The BIOMEX project aims to test the ability of biomolecules and cell components to preserve th...
Article
Full-text available
Life dispersal between planets, planetary protection, and the search for biosignatures are main topics in astrobiology. Under the umbrella of the STARLIFE project, three Antarctic endolithic microorganisms, the melanized fungus Cryomyces antarcticus CCFEE 515, a hyaline strain of Umbilicaria sp. (CCFEE 6113, lichenized fungus), and a Stichococcus s...