Foto del docente

Ferruccio Poli

Full Professor

Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology

Academic discipline: BIO/15 Pharmaceutical Biology


Keywords: medicinal plants metabolomics, ethnobotany phytochemistry biological activities smart agriculture Quality controll of plant products circular economy

Research lines

1. Study of plant secondary metabolites and their biological activities

In addition to the canonical methods used in phytochemistry, involving bio-guided assay fractionation, these studies are also addressed through 'omics' approach, which is based on metadata treatment through the development of appropriate multivariate analysis models. In this way, phytochemical-metabolomic data, related to a large number of samples, are correlated to their respective biological activities. This inductive approach allows to extract a wide range of information in short time and with a limited number of preparatory steps, resulting in low consumption of materials and solvents. This studies, although starting from the analysis of metabolites in a mixture (metabolomics), do not exclude their isolation both to confirm the hypotheses provided by multivariate analysis and for the structural elucidation of the metabolites of interest.

2. Quality control of spices, herbs and botanicals.

This line of research deals with the development of protocols for quality control of different natural products. The analyses developed are based both on microscopy and NMR-metabolomic analysis, which allows to develop chemometric models, able to predict the quality of herbal products on the basis of their phytochemical profile.

3. Plant-environment interactions studies

The study of plant secondary metabolites is also important for another research line dealing with the biological significance of these compounds, and their variation in plants in relation to biotic and abiotic factors. This study is mainly addressed with a metabolomic approach, correlating plants phytochemical-metabolomic profiles to the variation of different monitored factors, finding application in the field of smart agriculture and chemical ecology.

4. Valorization of wastes and by-products derived from plants industrial processing.

This line of research is related to the implementation of circular economy strategies of in view of a more sustainable development. Wastes and by-products from different industrial sectors, such as agro-food, perfumery and herbal industry, are analyzed both from the point of view of phytochemical and biological activities, in order to investigate their potential use in different areas (e.g. cosmetic, veterinary, agronomic, etc .) and their consequent valorization.

5. Ethnopharmacobotanical research on plants used in traditional medicine and enhancement of local biodiversity.

The ethnobotanical research is one of the main resources for the identification of plants of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical interest, assuming also that the prolonged use over the centuries can give more guarantees on the safety profile. This line of research aims to obtain information about the use of a specific plant in traditional medicine, and it is of particular interest in areas characterized by high biodiversity, such as some Mediterranean regions (e.g. Sardinia), India and Africa. In order to enhance local biodiversity, many ethnobotanical studies are also conducted in the hill area of Bologna and its province. The selected plants are then often subjected to more detailed studies concerning the phytochemical composition and biological activities.