Ilaria Benedetti

I am Ilaria, I am from Rome and I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology at university “La Sapienza”. I moved to Madrid six years ago with the European grant UPG4 and I worked for seven months in a company with a project on marine natural products as source of treatments for Alzheimer disease. In 2009 I decided to change scientific field and I got a Master in Microbiology at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. In the same year, I got “La Caixa” fellowship and I started my PhD in Victor de Lorenzo’s Lab. I finalized my PhD in Microbiology in 2014 with a Thesis dedicated to the design of genetic tools for Gram- negative bacteria.

My general research interests are focused on the design of standardized genetic tools in molecular biology and specifically, in providing such tools for the Gram-negative soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida KT2440 in order to analyse its regulatory properties and its biotechnological applications. These molecular tools are designed, assembled (through DNA assembling techniques i.e. ligation, Gibson assay) and assayed in the specific host which usually is E.coli or P. putida.

I developed a collection of formatted vectors such as plasmids and transposons, which have been optimized to edit the P. putida KT2440 genome and to clarify some questions regarding its genetic regulation and its use for biotechnological applications. For this reason, the main objective of my research is to domesticate this strain enhancing its advantageous features (such as its ability to degrade recalcitrant compounds) while eliminating its undesirable traits (such as its resistance to antibiotics).
My most recent works are focused on: 1) Manipulation of P. putida KT2440 strain for diverse biotechnological applications; in this case, I am especially interested in improving the ability of our laboratory strain P. putida KT2440 to produce robust biofilms that are catalytically active. 2) Study of regulatory networks (i.e. XylR-Pu), which in P. putida are specialized in degrading aromatic compounds. I am specifically studying single-cell responses of the promoter to environmental changes such as increased production of its regulator and different inducers.

ilaria

Microscopy analysis of P. putida Δall-Φ with over-expressed cyclase gene. Pictures represent fluorescent micrograph of P. putida Δall-Φ biofilms. Cells bearing pSedQ, a plasmid which in the presence of cyclohexanone, over-expresses cyclase, one enzyme involved in biofilm formation.