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Projects

Research 

 

Our research interests cover a variety of topics within photosynthetic microorganisms’ diversity, ecotoxicology and evolution. Currently our research focus is on understanding the processes underlying bloom formation, secondary metabolites production and biogeography in cyanobacteria. My approach is to study these processes by investigating genetic diversity, population structure, dispersal, and local adaptation by classic and metagenomics research.

 

Together with my research group and collaborators we are currently focusing on:

I. Exploring the biodiversity (morphological, genetic) of photosynthetic organisms; mapping their diversity by classic and metagenomics research. Diversity and ecology of algal blooms.

II.  Prokaryotic and eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms’ phylogeny.

 

III.  Diversity of bioactive compounds (peptides, alkaloids) in cyanobacteria strains and natural populations, and in aquatic animals’ tissues. Effects in plants and cell cultures.

IV. Biodiversity informatics. Biodiversity databases. 

 

Projects 

New bioactive compounds with anticancer/antioxidant potential from sponge-associated cyanobacteria

 

Marine cyanobacteria are considered a rich source of bioactive natural products with promising anticancer and antioxidant activities. A significant number of compounds derived from cyanobacteria have been found to induce cytotoxicity in several cancer cell lines and currently, some of them are in different phases of clinical trials for the treatment of cancer. In the current project, we aim, for the first time, to investigate the potential of cytotoxicity of sponge-associated cyanobacteria extracts to several cancer cell lines, as well their antioxidant potential.

The project is implemented by Dr. Eleni Mavrogonatou, Dr. Kiraki-Sevasti Zervou and PhD student Despoina Konstantinou under the co-ordination of Spyros Gkelis.

This research is co-financed by the Operational Program "Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning" and  by the European Union (European Social Fund) and Greek national funds.

 

Cyanobacteria-sponges symbiosis: diversity, co-evolution, secondary metabolites

 Strain TAU-MAC 1315, a possible new species and genus within Schizothrichaceae, isolated from the sponge Aplysina aerophoba. [images from Konstantinou et al. 2018 Plos One]Strain TAU-MAC 1315, a possible new species and genus within Schizothrichaceae, isolated from the sponge Aplysina aerophoba. [images from Konstantinou et al. 2018 Plos One]Sponge associated microbes have determined key roles in the evolutionary history and ecological success of sponges. Cyanobacterial symbionts live in association with more than 100 sponge species. 

This project is focused on the diversity of cyanobacteria living in association with marine sponges in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The project is a PhD thesis elaborated by Despoina Konstantinou under the supervision of Spyros Gkelis, co-supervised by Prof. Eleni Voultsiadou (Department of Zoology, School of Biology, AUTH) and Dr. David Fewer (Department of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki).

This study was supported by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) and the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI), grant number 938 to DK.

 

Volatile and odorous cyanobacteria metabolites

 Some T&O compound identified in cyanobacteria strains of the TAU-MAC collection. [image from Kaloudis et al. 2018, SETAC Europe 28th, Rome, Italy]Some T&O compound identified in cyanobacteria strains of the TAU-MAC collection. [image from Kaloudis et al. 2018, SETAC Europe 28th, Rome, Italy]

Identification of volatile and odorous metabolites and degradation products of cyanobacteria strains isolated from Greek freshwaters using SPME, GC-MS etc. Genes implicated in volatile and odorous biosynthesis. In collaboration with Dr. Tri Kaloudis (EYDAP SA). 

 

Commercially cultivated Arthrospira spp. ('Spirulina')

 

This project deals with the genetic, chemical, and microbiological characterization of Arthrospira strains used in Spirulina biomass production plants. In collaboration with Dr. Anastasia Hiskia (Demokritos NCSR).  Funding: ALGI AE company (under Aristotle University Research Committee). 

 

Past Projects 

  • 7/2017-4/2018.  “Flowing water quality monitoring based in the wider mining area of the company Hellenic Gold SA in Kassandra, Chalkidiki”. Funding: ENVECO SA.  Coordinator: Spyros Gkelis
  • 12/2014-5/2015.  “Investigation of microorganism diversity of the Lake Koronia sediment with emphasis on toxic/ harmful species”. Funding: Lakes Volvi-Koronia Management Body. Coordinator: Spyros Gkelis
  • 11/2014-6/2015. Coordinator in the «Isolation and diversity of Arthrospira (Spirulina) strains used in commercial cultures». Funding: ALGI AE company (under Aristotle University Research Committee). Coordinator: Spyros Gkelis
  • 1/2014-1/2015. Coordinator in the “DIversity and Growth of cyanobacteria Arthrospira (Spirulina) used in commercial cultures [DIG-SPIRULINA]” Funded by the ALGI AE company (under Aristotle University Research Committee). Coordinator: Spyros Gkelis
  • 1/2013-7/2015. “Water quality parameters monitoring” (Lake Karla). Funded by national funds and resources of the European Regional Development Fund under the NSRF 2007-2013 and especially Axis Priority 9 "Protecting the natural environment and biodiversity Operational Programme "Environment and Sustainable Development (EPPERAA) 2007-2013". Spyros Gkelis was Principal investigator, head of phytoplankton-biotoxins working group.  
  • 1/2011-2/2012: Coordinator in the "CYaNobacteria diversity Assessment throUgh sTrain pHylogenetic analyses" (CYN-AUTH) program. Funded by the Aristotle University Research Committee, Greece. Coordinator: Spyros Gkelis