Area of Interest: Green and white biotech

Type: Open doors; labs/training

Scheduling: 9.00 a.m. – 12.30 a.m.  for schools (already reserved); 3.30 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. open to everybody (to book your visit, please write to

For one day you will have the possibility to become a real scientist! Several workstations will be organised and equipped as mini-laboratories, where you can directly perform experiments under the supervision of CNR researchers. You can choose between four different activities (see below) or even participate in all of them. You will have the chance to familiarise with simple, but useful, laboratory techniques and discover the biotechnological potential of microalgae, camelina, flax and polymer materials.

1) CYAO: the pink cyanobacterium ((IBBA-IBF:

Cyanobacteria, small aquatic photosynthetic microorganisms, are gaining increasing interest due to their high biotechnological potential as alternative source for food and renewable energies and as efficient factories for the production of valuable molecules to be employed in the food/feed, medical and cosmetic sector. We will tell you the story of CYAO, a cyanobacterium that, in particular conditions, is able to synthesise astaxanthin (ASX), a precious coloured molecule, which is used for example in aquaculture as feed additive in order to confer the characteristic pink colour to the fish flesh. To visualise and purify ASX, it is necessary to separate it from the other pigments that mask its presence. For doing that, you will analyse the compositions of pigment mixtures using the technique of TLC (Thin Layer Chromatography) and directly verify if CYAO has properly done its job.

2) Small, but … intriguing! (IBBA:

Camelina sativa, a small herbaceous plant, produces small golden seeds that are widely used and highly appreciated for their beneficial effects. Camelina seeds are very small but they are very rich in precious molecules, like proteins, antioxidants and “good” lipids (omega 3). You will extract these precious oils and proteins from Camelina by grinding with mortar and pestle small amounts of seeds. The resulting powder will be transferred into small tubes and water will be added. After centrifugation, it will be possible to observe how the three components (oil, water and flour) can be easily separated. Moreover, the presence of proteins in the water fraction will be determined.

3) PLAN CELLS as FACTORIES for useful molecules (IBBA:

This activity will show you the huge potential of plant cells as factories producing useful molecules and how to obtain cell cultures from flax plants. Many people do not know that the majority of food additives, dietary supplements and active ingredients of medicinal products derives from plants. Unf

ortunately, these molecules are produced at very low levels and scientists have to find the way to produce them in larger amounts. But how to do that? We will illustrate it to you through a collection of in vitro plants and cell cultures that you can hold in your hand. You will also see how interesting molecules can be extracted from this material and, more importantly, you will experience how it is possible to visualise the presence of these molecules in raw extracts.

4) Everything is … a polymer (ISMAC:

We will take you through the world of polymers, synthetic macromolecules that became an integral part of our life. Everything around us is made of polymers, like nylon and polyesters that are the main components of our clothes. Together we will perform the synthesis of polyamides like nylon 6/6, which is used for the production of tights, sportswear, swimwear and for the synthesis of the famous “skifidol”. Moreover, we will explain to you the synthesis of polymeric materials derived from squeezing lemon peels or from vegetable oil.

Address: Milano, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – Area della Ricerca Milano 1, Via A. Corti 12 Sale A, B ed EXPO

For more information, please reach out to:

Organiser: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – Istituto di Biologia e Biotecnologia Agraria (CNR-IBBA) in collaborazione con CNR-IBF e CNR-ISMAC

Bildergebnis für CNR-IBBA