In our group we try to use multiple techniques to investigate symbiosis

Genomic evolution of bacterial symbionts of eukaryotes

Most bacterial lineages that are involved in symbiotic relationships with eukaryotes undergo peculiar evolutionary processes, frequently becoming dependent on their host and establish suitable interaction. We are interested in unravelling the genome evolutionary underlying such fascinating biological systems, and we have multiple research projects on different symbiotic systems. In particular, we are dealing with Rickettsiales endosymbionts of different eukaryotes.

Midichloria mitochondrii

Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii” is an intracellular bacterium with a unique lifestyle. Discovered in 2006 by a joint effort of the parasitologists of Pavia and Milano, it was found to have the capacity to enter the mitochondria of the cells of its host, the medically important tick Ixodes ricinus. Fascinated by this peculiar form of symbiosis, we are using multiple approaches to try to understand this system.

Electron microscopy

We investigate bacterial symbionts through transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
One of the most fruitful applications of TEM to our samples allowed to discover the intramitochondrial tropism of “Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii”.
Retired Prof. Luciano Sacchi, with a long and and successful career in microscopy, is the guiding light of our TEM team.

Genomics and epidemiology

The hospital environment is unique, as it concentrates a high number of bacterial agents, frequent antibiotic use, and patients with weak immune systems. This combination favours the development and selection of antibiotic resistant strains and the spread of opportunistic infections: in general the thriving of nosocomial pathogens. We are studying the genomic evolution of important nosocomial pathogens such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.


The study of the transcriptomic profiles can be useful to understand the metabolism of any biological system. We use RNA-seq to understand the effect of symbiosis in hard ticks.

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