Alessandro Occhialini has wide research interests in many areas of plant synthetic biology and metabolic engineering of plants. The main focus of his research is to use the most precise and advanced techniques of synthetic biology to produce a new generation of “valuable plants” with an increased impact on human population. The expanding human population and climate change imply more attention to food security. In this direction, our advanced synthetic biology tools will provide great potential to create a new generation of crops able to produce more yield using fewer natural resources. Plants are also an excellent reservoir for production of valuable compounds with positive effects on human health, such as nutrients and pharmaceutical molecules.
- Using advanced synthetic biology techniques to improve crop production and guarantee food security (overcoming the genetic limitations of classical breeding techniques).
- Transferring new metabolic pathways in edible plant crops for production of nutrients and other valuable compounds for human health (e.g., vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, vaccines, antibiotics, anti-tumor drugs).
- Using plants for production of compounds of industrial interest (e.g., advanced materials, polymers, additives in food processing).
- Developing and optimizing new tools for more efficient and precise synthetic biology and plant metabolic engineering (e.g., advanced transformation platforms, cell suspension cultures, automation, and high-throughput screening).
- Designing synthetic inducible promoters either for nucleal or chloroplast expression.
- Designing phytosensors for detection of biotic and abiotic stimuli.
- CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.