Research and Projects

Our current work lays at the interface between microbial ecology and microbial evolution. We integrate classic microbiology techniques with cutting-the-edge molecular and computational tools in order to investigate the role of microbes in shaping the environment, their interactions with abiotic factors and the drivers of evolution and adaptation.

We are particularly focused on extreme environments, for a number of different reasons. Extreme environments are hot spots of prokaryotic diversity and they are believed to significantly contribute to total biogeochemical budgets. The majority of the metabolic diversity of our planet is present in different extreme environments, where diverse redox conditions meet and a variety of elements and compounds are cycled by microbes. Therefore, the study of the prokaryotic diversity in extreme environments potentially holds the key to a better understanding of the functioning of our planet, both in an ecological and evolutionary context. Additionally, some extreme environments resemble conditions found early on on our planet, and might help in understanding the emergence and evolution of life and inform us on the search for life on other planets. For a recent review about the way I think about extremophiles and the search for life check out this paper, while an account of our work about the use of geothermal environments, in this case deep-sea hydrothemal vents, for the study of the emergence of life read this article on

The majority of our work is focused on geothermal influenced environments, both terrestrial and marine, but we have ongoing projects on a variety of different environments. More specifically at the moment we are focusing on: i) the microbiology of across volcanic arc hot springs in Costa Rica and Panama subduction zones, looking at the effect of microbiology on arc volcano volatile cycling; ii) the reconstruction of the emergence and evolution of early carbon fixation in deep-branching thermophiles; and iii) the taxonomic and functional diversity of the microorganisms in shallow-water hydrothermal vents.

We also collaborate on several side projects, and new ideas jump-start in the lab anytime.

Here is a list of present and past project, both funded and yet-to-be-funded, for which I am/was (Co)-PI or to which I participated. Contact me in case you are interested in having more info!

Not-yet-funded current projects

Current funded projects:

2020 Giovannelli D (PI). ERC Starting Grant 2020. “CoEvolve: ”Coevolution of Life and Planet: role of trace metal availability in the evolution of biogeochemically relevant redox metalloenzymes”

2016 Barry P (PI), de Moor M, Giovannelli D, Hummer D, Lloyd K, Lopez T and Pratt K (Co-PIs). Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Biology Meets Subduction: A Collaborative and Multi-disciplinary Deep Carbon Field Initiative”

2016 Colwell F (PI) , Giovannelli D, Morgan L, Pratt K, Reysenbach AL, Shanks P (Co-PIs). Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The second Deep Carbon Observatory Summer School

2015 Vetriani C (PI), Fostoukos D (PI) and Giovannelli D (Co-PI). NSF Molecular and Cellular Biosciences: Collaborative Research “Carbon fixation, anaerobic respiration and ROS detoxification in the anaerobic vent bacterium, Thermovibrio ammonificans”

2015 Collaborator: NASA Exobiology Exo/Evo program (Frank Robb and Costantino Vetriani PIs): Sentinel Microbes that Utilize Carbon Monoxide as Energy and Carbon Source

Past Projects

2014 Bongioni L (PI), Viaroli P, Sfriso A, Pallavicini A, Giovannelli D (Co-Pis). Lifewatch-Italy, distributed Laboratory of Molecular Biodiversity, “Responses of benthic microbial diversity and functioning to the recent invasion of Gracilaria vermiculophylla in the lagoon of Venice”

2013 C-DEBI postdoctoral fellowship for the study of “Alternative carbon fixation strategies in Thermovibrio ammonificans: a model system to study energy limitation in the deep biosphere” –

2011 – 2014. Collaborator: NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity, Collaborative Research (Costantino Vetriani, S. Sievert and D. Foustoukos): An integrated study of energy metabolism, carbon fixation, and colonization mechanisms in chemosynthetic microbial communities at deep-sea vents

2011 – 2014. Collaborator: NSF Biological Oceanography, Collaborative Research (Costantino Vetriani, S. Sievert and D. Foustoukos): Autotrophic carbon fixation at a shallow-water hydrothermal system: Constraining microbial activity, isotopic and geochemical regimes

2014 Giovannelli D (PI), Cox A, Hummer D, Pratt K, Sheik C, Thomas D, Viveiros F (Co-Pis). Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The second Deep Carbon Observatory Early Career Scientist Workshop –

2010 Giovannelli D (PI). PNRA (National Antarctic Research Program of Italy) Young Researcher Project “Diversity and functioning of Prokaryotic communities in shallow Antarctic waters, pre and post ice melting” 2010/C1.03

2008 – 2010. Collaborator: European Science Foundation project BIOFUN (BIOdiversity and ecosystem FUNctioning in deep seas)

2006 – 2008. Collaborator: EU founded project REEFRES (Developing Ubiquitous Restoration Practices for Indo-Pacific Coral Reefs; FPV1)