Molecular Biology and Microbiology

The Molecular Biology and Microbiology Research Area includes the Molecular Biology and Food Microbiology Laboratories. Various modern techniques, such as qualitative and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR), analyses of the sequence and dimensions of DNA fragments and many other molecular biology methods are used in the Molecular Biology Laboratory to conduct DNA, RNA and protein testing. The Food Microbiology Laboratory conducts testing mainly to identify the microorganisms present in foods. As well as using classic microbiological methods, it also uses ultra-modern mass spectroscopy. Both laboratories use testing for internal research purposes as well as to provide services to third parties.


  • Dr. Katrin Janik
    Tel.: +39 0471 969 518

The main objective of functional genomics is to link genetic information (genome) to the function and appearance (phenotype) of an organism.

The expression of phenotypic characteristics is affected by environmental factors, genetic variation and gene regulation. Functional genomics therefore focuses on the systematic analysis of gene expression as well as on interaction studies of gene products and their impact on different characteristics of the organism of interest. This serves to unravel and characterise the function of genes in different species (e.g. plants and bacteria).

Two projects currently analyse the complex interactions of apple proliferation disease development and spread: APPL2.0 (2012-2017) and APPLClust (2013-2018).


While the conditions surrounding apples and grapes do affect their look, taste, substance, susceptibility to disease and many more characteristics, they are first and foremost a product of genetic factors inscribed in their genetic material – the genome.

The Breeding Genomics task group establishes the relevant differences of genetic factors in different varieties as well as their impact on the appearance of a plant and how they are passed on through generations. Research into pre-defined regions of apple tree and vine genomes reveals information on the identity of a variety, its pollination compatibility with other varieties, its susceptibility to pathogenic agents and the potential quality of its apples of grapes. A number of projects provide a solid basis upon which to answer the following and similar questions:

  • Which apple varieties are ideal pollinators for my orchard?
  • Which apple variety grows in my garden?
  • Which apples are hypoallergenic and which ones can be used to treat birch pollen allergies?
  • Which newly developed apple seedlings contain several defence mechanisms against apple scab?
  • Are the rootstocks in my vineyard labelled correctly?
  • Which grape variety is most suitable for a sustainable cultivation approach, and how can the quality of fungus resistant grape varieties (PIWI) be increased?

DNA tests and molecular markers are used to strategically orient the Laimburg Research Centre's breeding programme upon developing new varieties with a strong focus on quality and sustainability. And thanks to the development of a data base containing over a thousand genetic profiles, anyone interested can now obtain information and proof of the identity of their varieties and rootstocks.

Department head

This laboratory characterizes the microbial status of foods. The analytical methods used are based on either the identification and quantification of single microorganisms or on the determination of the total count of microorganisms in a food. The lab is fully experienced in the characterization of microorganisms in wine, beer, and other fermented beverages. Testing is currently performed using classical microbiological methods and is supported using Mass Spectroscopy (MS) based Proteomics. MALDI-TOF Mass Spectroscopy (Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time of Flight) is of central importance to this. In the future, the range of tests offered will be expanded to include other typical South Tyrolean products (fruits, meat, milk, and cheese).



Our research projects include collaborations with:

  • NOI Techpark (food sciences division)
  • ZuMiMet

Cooperation partners