The research projects focus on the identification and typing of organisms isolated from different environments by classical microbiology methods, such as isolation, culture and testing for the detection of certain phenotypic characteristics, molecular biology, in particular based on PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), and proteomics, which consists of the identification and characterization of proteins, can obtain the "fingerprints" of microorganisms. These fingerprints are necessary to identify, i.e. to give a name, and/or to type, i.e. to distinguish unambiguously, an unknown micro-organism or one with particular metabolic capacities, to monitor the presence and possible quantity of a micro-organism in a given environment, to study a microbial population and to verify possible fluctuations in its structure and composition over time.
The application of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry for the identification and typing of microorganisms, which in 2008 was introduced in Ticino by the then Cantonal Institute of Microbiology as the first Institute of microbiological diagnostics in Switzerland, represents a specific competence that places the Environmental Microbiology Laboratory as a service laboratory for SUPSI and for external applicants.
In recent years, the LMA has added NGS (next generation sequancing) methods such as Illumina's iSEC100 and Nanopore's MinION to increase analysis accuracy.
Research focuses on phenotypic and genotypic identification and typing of microorganisms that are pathogenic for humans, animals or plants (e.g. Candida spp., dermatophytic fungi, Clostridium difficile, Staphylococcus aureus) and environmental microorganisms (e.g. Russula spp., Aeromonas spp., symbiotic leguminous bacteria). Fingerprinting methods are applied in different fields such as characterisation of microorganisms, epidemiology and molecular epidemiology, environmental monitoring and the study of natural microbial population dynamics.

Sophie De Respinis e Antonella Demarta