Foto del docente

Paolo Pupillo

Professor emeritus

Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna

Curriculum vitae

Paolo Pupillo, born 1944, obtained his degree in Biology at the University of Bologna. After serving in the Army, he became a research assistant in Plant Physiology (1970), then Plant Physiology and Botany lecturer at the Universities of Modena (1972) and Bologna (1974). Full professor of Plant Physiology since 1981 at the University of Modena and then in Bologna, he was later appointed to dean of the Faculty of Science (1989-1998), also chairman of the National Conference of  the deans of Sciences. Member of the National University Council (CUN) for the Faculties of Sciences (1979-86). Twice president of the Italian Society of Plant Physiology; member in charge of the Academy of Sciences of Bologna since 1987; vice-rector for University settlements in Romagna (2000-05). Several times dean of Biology courses in Bologna (lately 2004-2010). Dr. Pupillo is co-author of textbooks:
ALPI A, PUPILLO P, RIGANO C (1989-2000) “Fisiologia delle piante”: I-III ed., XVI+560 pp. Edises, Napoli;
PUPILLO P, CERVONE F, CRESTI M, RASCIO R (eds.) (2003) “Biologia vegetale”, XII+483 pp., Zanichelli, Bologna; MELANDRI BA, PUPILLO P (eds.) (2011) "L'energia e i vegetali". Società Italiana di Biologia Vegetale.

Research activity. Dr. Pupillo led research units for many years (“60%” and “40%” funds, National Research Council - CNR), including the CNR network “Molecular basis of growth in autotrophic organisms”. His scientific group participated to the CNR-RAISA programme with a phytopathological project, to the Agricultural Biotechnologies programme of MIRAAF (later MIPA) for iron reduction (1996-98), to CNR-Agency 2000, to the Plant Biotechnologies project of MIPAF, and others. More recently, the group has been involved in national projects MIUR-PRIN and FIRB (2005-2011). Our research unit consists of a few colleagues and senior researchers (P. Trost, professor, the unit director since November 1st, 2012; drs. F.Sparla, S.Scagliarini, M. Zaffagnini, ) and others in postdoctoral or doctorate positions.

Since his earliest international papers (1968), P. Pupillo has been investigating plant enzymes from a structural and a functional standpoint, kinetics and distribution (isoforms of malic enzyme, cytosolic glyceradehyde-3-phosphate: NADP+ reductase and others). The long series of investigations on chloroplast glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate-dehydrogenase had a remarkable impact as NAD(P)-GAPDH is an enzyme located near the “heart” of photosynthetic carbon assimilation. We have substantially contributed to clarify properties and forms of this protein and recently its tridimensional structure and regulation, as well as formation and structure of the "night-time" multienzyme complex of photosynthesis. Within this context, studies on chloroplast thioredoxins, the unstructured protein CP12 and phosphoribulose kinase have become central. Mainly in relation to the greenhouse effect, there is currently renewed interest in this group of proteins which make use of nearly all energy of photosynthesis by mediating CO2 reduction to organic molecules. A surprising development concerns the effect of thioredoxins on a β-amylase of chloroplasts mainly located in stomata, which becomes activated in the light.

An important part of our research for many years, starting from studies commenced in Freiburg i.Br., is devoted to redox enzymes of plant membranes, “new” flavoenzymes in particular, including the NAD(P)H-quinone reductase whose distant relationship to animal DT-diaphorase has been documented. Other studies have led to purification of a soluble NADH: ferri-chelate reductase identified as a cytochrome b5 reductase. Recent investigations on non-mitochondrial transmembrane cytochromes b561 have led to the discovery of a new protein family of plasmamembrane cytochromes Air12 protruding into apoplast with two heme groups, and involved in ascorbate metabolism in such a way as to modify cell wall components, growth and pathogen resistance. Also, the role of the vacuolar membrane in iron metabolism has been shown to involve tonoplast cytochrome b-561 for reduction of FeIII to FeII (the physiologically active form). Another research line developed some time ago with colleagues of the Agricultural faculty (on effects of bacterial pectate lyases) stimulated our proposal about the induction of programmed cell death by products of tissue lysis. Also relevant was the finding of protective effect by bacterial lipopolysaccharides on oxidative stress in tobacco. More recently we have investigated the fireblight disease by Erwinia amylovora in pear trees and observed by use of molecular probes that certain compounds tested are able to induce systemic acquired resistance (SAR).