Martina Cascone

​I am a third year PhD student in biotechnology working in the Giovannelli Lab at the University of
Naples Federico II and actively collaborating with the energy company Eni SpA. I am interested in environmental microbiology and the potential of microbes as a
source of biotechnological applications. My PhD project is focused on the microbiology of
potential Underground Hydrogen Storage and naturally occurring hydrogen seeps.

Hydrogen is a fundamental electron donor in several microbial metabolisms and is considered to be an important energy currency available to microbial communities in anaerobic environments. Hydrogen, produced naturally by geological processes and industrially via water hydrolysis, represents one of the key steps to the transition to a greener energy society. Geological hydrogen emissions are widespread and can be produced by diverse processes, including microbial fermentation of organic matter, radiolysis of water, water rock interactions in hydrothermal systems and hydration of iron-rich ultramafic rocks. When hydrogen is released at depth, it can travel towards the surface, traversing a large subsurface ecosystem. Subsurface microbial communities can use hydrogen as an energy source, coupling its oxidation to the reduction of a variety of different compounds, through a diverse group of enzymes called hydrogenases. These diverse enzymes use tangled organometal complexes built around a binuclear Ni-Fe, Fe-Fe or Fe center, with bound CO and CN(-) groups, as well as multiple FeS centers. Understanding the diversity of hydrogenases in the subsurface and the role of trace elements’ availability in controlling their spatial distribution is crucial to quantify the subsurface microbial utilization of molecular hydrogen derived from geological reactions. Here, we will present data on the diversity of hydrogenases from over 180 deeply-sourced springs located in diverse tectonic settings worldwide. By coupling metagenomic data with high resolution geochemical analysis, we inferred how the different geochemical landscapes found in the different settings sampled, shape the distribution of hydrogenases in natural ecosystems. This, in turn, will help to establish the baseline of hydrogenotrophic metabolisms in the subsurface, complementing our knowledge of the microbial influence on hydrogen cycling in various geological settings. Our study deepens our understanding of subsurface hydrogen and its relationship with the deep biosphere, aiding both natural hydrogen exploration as well as geological hydrogen storage.

Martina Cascone1, Davide Corso1, Gabriella Gallo1, Flavia Migliaccio1, Matteo Selci1, Deborah Bastoni1, Francesco Montemagno1, Bernardo Barosa1, Annarita Ricciardelli1, Feliciana Oliva1, Luciano di Iorio1, Monica Correggia1, Angelina Cordone1, Alessia Bastianoni1,2, Ilaria Pietrini2, Elisabetta Franchi2, Giovanna Carpani2, Rebecca L. Tyne3, Peter H. Barry4, Karen G. Lloyd5, Gerdhard L. Jessen6, Agostina Chiodi7, J. Maarten de Moor8,9, Carlos J. Ramirez10, Matt Schrenk11, Almerinda di Benedetto12, Giuseppina Luciani12, Giuseppina Anzelmo13, David Iacopini13, Mariano Parente13, Alberto Vitale Brovarone14,15,16, Marco Moracci1, Donato Giovannelli1,4,17,18,19

1. Department of Biology, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
2. Eni S.p.A R&D Environmental & Biological Laboratories, San Donato Milanese MI), Italy
3. University of Manchester, UK
4. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, USA
5. Microbiology Department, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA
6. Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Limnológicas, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile & Center for Oceanographic Research COPAS COASTAL, Universidad de Concepción, Valdivia, Chile
7. Instituto de Bio y Geociencias del Noroeste Argentino (IBIGEO, CONICET-UNSa), Salta, Argentina
8. Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional, Heredia, Costa Rica
9. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA
10. Servicio Geológico Ambiental, Heredia, Costa Rica
11. Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
12. Department of Chemical Engineering, Materials and Industrial Productions, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

13. DISTAR, Naples, Italy

14. Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali (BiGeA), Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
15. Institut de Minéralogie, de Physique des Matériaux et de Cosmochimie (IMPMC), Sorbonne Université, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, UMR CNRS 7590, IRD UR206, 75005 Paris, France
16. Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources, National Research Council of Italy, Pisa, Italy
17. Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Biotechnologies, National Research Council, Ancona, Italy
18. Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute for Technology, Tokyo, Japan
19. Department of Marine and Coastal Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

Martina Cascone

University of Naples


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