Monterotondo- the Center studies several aspects of the aquatic animal production, as novel and sustainable production systems for fish, shellfish and crustaceans; the identification of novel sources of proteins and fatty acids for aquaculture feed and feeding trials in commercial farmed fish species; the quality of aquatic products and the quantification of the environmental impacts of their production chain, with the ambitious aim to improve national aquaculture sustainability.
Animal nutrition and sustainability (Monterotondo)
Monterotondo Research Station – The principles of circular economy are of great interest for the sustainability of livestock production, together with the production of feed and food characterized by low carbon footprint. Current research concerns the study of innovative and/or unconventional feed, in order to reduce human / animal competition for resources, the valorization of by-products as well as the large-scale individual measurement of livestock methane emissions. Methanogenesis reduction, water saving and low external input farming methods for the production of forages and concentrates, are also major targets. In the perspective of sustainable animal husbandry, the Center has long been involved in grazing cattle rearing systems.
Italian State Stud of Lipizzan Horses (ASCAL) (Monterotondo)
Since 15 February 1955 the Center has managed the conservation breeding of the Lipizzan horse, a nucleus deriving from breeders of the "classic" lines kept in the Habsburg imperial farming at Lipica before 1915 and originated from stallions and mares born between 1738 and 1900. In addition to ensuring the conservation of biodiversity, it offers an important field of investigation for population genetics and genomics studies, in particular on mitochondrial DNA sequence. The ASCAL horses are also trained for riding and driving.
Organic poultry and rabbit production (Monterotondo)
Monterotondo. The research activities on organic poultry concern mainly experimental tests about new protein feed as insect meals, alternative vitamin sources and the identification of adaptability indexes for poultry genotypes reared in organic systems. Researches are focused also on new management approach to avoid stress, feather pecking and prevent diseases of poultry, utilizing digital techniques and remote control in the brand-new experimental poultry house. Regarding organic rabbit production the Centre is setting up an experimental rearing method to overcome the health problems recurring in organic rabbit production utilizing breeds adapted to open air conditions.
Cell Biology and Flow Cytometry (Monterotondo)
The research activity aims to identify and study new immunological markers (cellular or soluble markers) as indicators of animal welfare and health status with an "animal-based" approach, including both the effects of the environment and the ability to react to infectious and non-infectious stressors. The flow cytometric platform allows to characterize the immune system response through the phenotyping and the evaluation of the functional status of leukocytes. By using flow cytometry to isolate cell populations, immune competence can be measured against cell population, cell stage, and other relevant variables. The flow cytometry applied for the analysis of milk cells (Differential Cell Count) is a useful approach to identify inflammatory markers for the evaluation of the health status of the mammary gland.
Phytoextracts and antimicrobial resistance (Monterotondo)
The research activity concerns the selection, characterization, evaluation and validation of extracts from plants and / or agro-industrial by-products such as foods, feed additives and antimicrobials for animal production, including active extracts against vectors of diseases of animal interest. and human, as well as preservatives for feed and foods.
Genetics, genomics, transcriptomics (Montrotondo)
Genetic research group is interested in quantitative and molecular genetics, genomics, transcriptomics and bioinformatics and they apply these methodologies to study many species in animal production: bovine, ovine, caprine, swine, poultry and buffalo. The research is focused improving of functional and reproductive characters example longevity, disease resistance and fertility; increasing of nutraceutical components in milk and meat to obtain animal products as requested from consumers; advancing sustainable farms by enhancing twin rate in beef breeds and fostering of heterosis in dairy cattle breeds. The genetic group is interested in the maintenance of animal biodiversity. Currently genetics researchers are developing skills in metagenomics to study rumen microbioma.
Anaerobic microbiology (Monterotondo)
The Microbiology lab deals with microbial ecology and in particular studies the rumen environment of ruminants such as bovine and buffaloes, through traditional, molecular techniques and metagenomic analysis as well. Research activity are focused on animal nutrition and feeding to improve livestock production in the perspective of environmental sustainability (nitrogen and GHG emission reduction). The laboratory also studies in the biogas production (hydrogen and methane) from agro-zootechnical wastes microbial consortia involved in the fermentation processes.
Food quality (milk and meat) (Monterotondo)
Monterotondo – The research activity on the dairy chain is focused on the effects of milk processing on chemical and functional characteristics of cheese. A deep knowledge of the milk system needs to be achieved through the study of the effects on both the major and the minor components, in order to improve milk and dairy product quality. One research topic is the study of raw materials traceability in cheese-making, in particular for buffalo mozzarella. As far as the meat supply chain is concerned, research activities are focused on: the improvement and valorization of nutritional and organoleptic properties of meat and meat-based processed products, by means of the study of new farming technologies and innovative diets respecting animal welfare and environment; post-slaughtering processes and processing technologies, as, for example, the implementation of tenderizing techniques; new systems of intelligent packaging; predictive indexes of quality and traceability.
Milk and dairy chemistry,( Lodi )
Development of chemical-physical methods for the definition of parameters able to characterize and describe dairy products; evaluation of dairy products shelf-life using chemical and physical indicators; study of cheese ripening biochemistry; evaluation of heat treatment induced modifications; study of biofunctional constituents of particular nutritional value, in milk and dairy products; development of analytical methods for the characterization of dairy components useful for detection of frauds, verification of authenticity and identification of raw materials; application of optical techniques: spectroscopy, laser diffraction, image analysis; evaluation of precision and accuracy data in the development of official methods of analysis.
Forage and high-protein crops, (Lodi)
The Centre studies the improvement of forage and high-protein crops (alfalfa, pea, white lupin, soybean, etc.) and crop-livestock systems, with the aim to increase the production, quality, resource use efficiency and adaptation to climate change of the crops and cropping systems. Plant breeding research includes the development of innovative methods based on genomic selection, eco-physiological and evolutionary approaches, in vitro selection for tolerance to abiotic stresses, studies on the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites, and evaluation of feed nutritional parameters.
Food microbiology and dairy technology, (Lodi)
Microbiological analysis of food and dairy products. Microbial ecology of dairy products and cheese making processes. Identification and characterization of bacteria and bacteriophages. Development of starter cultures for dairy products and functional foods. Production of traditional and industrial cheeses in the dairy pilot plant. Development of new products, evaluation of new ingredients (starter cultures, rennet, enzymes, etc.), improvement of cheese-making processes through laboratory-scale tests and pilot-scale validation.
Sustainability of animal production and organic milk production, (Lodi)
Environmental sustainability of animal production systems is studied with a Life Cycle Assessment approach. The main environmental impacts due to livestock production that are currently considered are climate changes, eutrophication, acidification, consumption of non-renewable resources and water resources. Study of the strategies for a sustainable and economic development of milk production according to the organic method. --- Participates in the project "PR Green Deal - The use of pasture and grass to support a sustainable development model for the mountain areas of Parmigiano Reggiano" - Initiative carried out as part of the 2014-2020 regional rural development program of Emilia Romagna — Tipo di operazione 16.1.01 — Gruppi operativi del partenariato europeo per l'innovazione: Produttività e sostenibilità dell'agricoltura — Focus Area 3A - Migliorare la competitività dei produttori primari integrandoli meglio nella filiera agroalimentare.
Experimental and precision livestock farming, (Lodi)
The main interest of the research group is to support the implementation and spread of precision livestock farming (PLF) technologies at farm level with principal purpose to enhance the animal welfare, the production quality and the environmental and economic sustainability of livestock activities. These goals are achieved both by research projects as well as by seminar and training activities in farm to rationalize the use of data sources and to get relevant information from the raw data by their integration in well-structured databases.
Breeding systems and quality of production in sheep and goats (Bella)
Bella- The research activities focus, primarily, on the role of extensive production systems and the diet of the aromatic, nutritional and health characteristics of dairy products. The Bella Research Office, furthermore, deals with process and product innovations for the development of the dairy chain and the agronomic strategies to improve the fodder and protein legumes production used in livestock feeding. Also, the activities focus on conservation of zootechnical biodiversity: in Bella Research Office, the core collections of the main sheep breeds (Gentile di Puglia, Altamurana, Leccese, Merinizzata) and goats (Maltese, Derivata di Siria, Girgentana, Garganica and Ionica), native to the South of Italy are maintained.
Pig farming systems and livestock effluent recycling (Modena)
Modena Unit. Research on pig feeding and livestock effluent exploitation, with main reference to identification of suitable diets to reduce the environmental impact and improve the health and well-being of the pig, during all stages of growth; pig breeding in pasture and with organic methods; reduction in the use of antibiotics in the critical stages of young pig breeding; recycling of livestock effluents for agricultural and non-agricultural uses: biology of biogas, hydrogen and methane from livestock effluents, by-products and biowaste; inoculum for anaerobic digesters. Participates in the project "PigBen - Reducing ammonia emissions from heavy pig farms by adding benzoic acid in the diet" - Initiative carried out as part of the regional rural development program 2014-2020 of Emilia-Romagna