Research Publications Staff Collaborations How to join us

Research

The research activity concerns the development of new analytical methods for elemental, isotopic and speciation analysis of trace elements and their application to environmental, biological and food samples. In particular, the research comprises fundamental and applicative issues related to the spectrochemical analysis of toxic and essential elements, the determination of their speciation and the precise measurement of lead and strontium isotopic ratios, as provenance tracers. The developed methods are mainly applied in the context of environmental studies in the polar regions, with the purpose of investigating the occurrence, potential sources and bioavailability of trace elements, in relation to natural processes and global climate changes. The research is carried out in the frame of national and European projects and involves renowned research groups.

New challenges… more research

In our fast-changing world, scientists are asked to provide the knowledge that is necessary to face worldwide problems, such as climate-related environmental changes, food security and traceability, emerging health threats, energy supply, and so on. In the effort of improving our knowledge of complex systems and to correctly drive the decisions of policy-makers, the obtaining of reliable, objective and reproducible scientific data is of primary importance. As the science of chemical measurements, the analytical chemistry plays a full role in the advancement of the scientific knowledge, offering instruments and methods to continuously give new answers to emerging questions. The activity of the research group is part of this mission, with specific focus on trace elements, their determination by atomic spectrometry and the investigation of their role in the environment.

This activity is briefly illustrated below via few, representative research topics we recently focus on. For a complete review of our studies, you are invited to check our List of publications.

Arsenic is not so bad!

Arsenic

In common parlance, “arsenic” is synonymous with “poison” but, scientifically, this is not correct! In fact, arsenic may occur in several chemical compounds that show wide-ranging levels of toxicity, from highly-toxic to innocuous. Therefore, the identification and quantification of the chemical species of arsenic - a process called speciation analysis - is of great importance for the correct assessment of the quality/safety of a specific environment or food. Besides, arsenic speciation analysis can provide information on the natural transformation/accumulation of this trace element through the food chain and among various environmental compartments.In this context, our research has been aimed at developing new analytical methods for arsenic speciation analysis of environmental and food samples, and at investigating the natural occurrence, transformation and temporal trend of arsenic compounds in Antarctic biota.

The research is performed in co-operation with Prof. Kevin Francesconi (University of Graz).

Sample introduction: the Achilles' heel of atomic spectroscopy?

TISIS

In atomic spectrometry, it was immediately recognized that the sample introduction system largely determines the quality of the analysis, in terms of accuracy and sensitivity. Therefore, a lot of fundamental and technological research has been carried out in order to develop new systems, able to efficiently introduce any kind of sample into the atomization source, with limited matrix effects.

In co-operation with Prof. Jean-Michel Mermet and Prof. José Luís Todolí, we developed an innovative system, called heated torch-integrated sample introduction system (hTISIS), which proved to provide superior performances for the elemental and isotopic analysis of micro-samples by plasma-source atomic spectrometry. Applications of hTISIS comprised environmental samples (seawater, marine sediments, organisms, Antarctic snow), foods (vegetables, wine), biological tissues (human blood, bone tissue, cerebrospinal fluid) and organics (petroleum products and biofuels).

From trace to tracer

Isotopes

In many environmental studies, the determination of trace elements and their isotopic composition can provide valuable information on the geographical sources of both natural and anthropogenic inputs, the relative contributions of these sources over time and the corresponding transport routes. Recently, we developed new analytical methods for the precise measurement of lead and strontium isotopic ratios in challenging environmental matrices, using single- and multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The methods were validated and extensively applied to the isotopic analysis of atmospheric particulate and surface snow collected in the Arctic and Antarctica, in the context of RIS (Research in Svalbard) and PNRA (Italian National Program of Research in Antarctica) projects.

The research is performed in co-operation with Prof. Frank Vanhaecke (University of Ghent).

Iron is the key

Sea ice

Iron is an essential trace element involved in many biological processes, including photosynthesis and respiration. In vast areas of the Earth, it can limit the marine primary productivity, thereby controlling the biological carbon pump and the sequestration of CO2 from the atmosphere. Consequently, understanding the factors that control the iron availability in seawater and how they might evolve under a global warming scenario, becomes crucial to unravel how the climate system might develop in the next decades. With maximum extension of 18 million km2, sea ice constitutes the dominant and most widespread source of iron in polar waters during seasonal melting and therefore it may play a key role in drawing down atmospheric CO2 levels through the stimulation of primary production. In this context, our research has been aimed at investigating the factors that control the iron biogeochemistry in Antarctic coastal waters and in sea ice, through the application of suitable analytical protocols able to determine the organic speciation parameters.

The research is in co-operation with Dr. Delphine Lannuzel (University of Tasmania) and Prof. Paola Rivaro of the Chemical Oceanography group.

Starting from the fundamentals

ICP

In instrumental analytical chemistry, a thorough knowledge of the processes involved in the generation of the analytical signal is complex, but necessary to face practical analytical problems on a rational base. Therefore, despite the research in the atomic spectrometry field is becoming more and more application-oriented, fundamentals studies continues to be of great value. So, our group is also interested in fundamental studies concerning the atomic spectrometry techniques, including sample introduction processes, atomization and excitation mechanisms and matrix interferences.

Publications

Recent publications

  • C. Cerutti, C. Sánchez, R. Sánchez, F. Ardini, M. Grotti, J.L. Todolí. Determination of trace elements in undiluted wine samples using an automatized total sample consumption system coupled to ICP-MS. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 34 (2019) 674-682. Link
  • E. Conca, O. Abollino, A. Giacomino, S. Buoso, R. Traversi, S. Becagli, M. Grotti, M. Malandrino. Characterization and temporal evolution of the elemental composition of PM10 collected at Ny-Ålesund (Norwegian Arctic). Atmospheric Environment 203 (2019) 153-165. Link
  • C. Petroselli, B. Moroni, S. Crocchianti, R. Selvaggi, F. Soggia, M. Grotti, F. D'Acapito, D. Cappelletti. Iron speciation of natural and anthropogenic particulate matter by spectroscopic and chemical methods. Atmosphere 10 (2019) 8. Link
  • F. Ardini, A. Bazzano, M. Grotti. Lead isotopic analysis of Antarctic snow by quadrupole ICP-MS using a total-consumption sample introduction system. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 33 (2018) 2124-2132. Link
  • L. Yang, K. Nadeau, J. Meija, P. Grinberg, E. Pagliano, F. Ardini, M. Grotti, C. Schlosser, P. Streu, E.P. Achterberg, Y. Sohrin, T. Minami, L. Zheng, J. Wu, G. Chen, M.J. Ellwood, C. Turetta, A. Aguilar-Islas, R. Rember, G. Sarthou, M. Tonnard, H. Planquette, T. Matoušek, S. Crum, Z. Mester. Inter-laboratory study for the certification of trace elements in seawater certified reference materials NASS-7 and CASS-6. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 410 (2018) 4469-4479. Link
  • C. Genovese, M. Grotti, J. Pittaluga, F. Ardini, J. Janssens, K. Wuttig, S. Moreau, D. Lannuzel. Influence of organic complexation on dissolved iron distribution in East Antarctic pack ice (SIPEX-2). Marine Chemistry 203 (2018) 28-37. Link
  • M. Grotti, F. Soggia, F. Ardini, A. Bazzano, B. Moroni, R. Vivani, D. Cappelletti, C. Misic. Trace elements in surface sediments from Kongsfjorden: occurrence, sources and bioavailability. International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, 97 (2017) 401-418. Link
  • A. Bazzano, K. Latruwe, M. Grotti, F. Vanhaecke. Determination of the isotopic composition of sub-ng amounts of Sr in Antarctic snow by multi-collector ICP-mass spectrometry. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 32 (2017) 1004-1008. Link
  • A. Bazzano, F. Ardini, A. Terol, P. Rivaro, F. Soggia, M. Grotti. Effects of the Atlantic water and glacial run-off on the spatial distribution of particulate trace elements in the Kongsfjorden. Marine Chemistry 191 (2017)16–23. Link
  • M. Grotti, S. Pizzini, M.L. Abelmoschi, G. Cozzi, R. Piazza, F. Soggia. Retrospective biomonitoring of chemical contamination in the marine coastal environment of Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea, Antarctica) by environmental specimen banking. Chemosphere 165 (2016) 418-426. Link

For a complete list of publications click here

Top cited articles

  • M. Grotti, M.L. Abelmoschi, F.Soggia, P.Rivaro, E.Magi, R.Frache. Temporal distribution of trace metals in Antarctic coastal waters. Marine Chemistry, 76 (2001) 189-209. Link
  • M. Grotti, C. Lagomarsino, R. Frache. Multivariate study in chemical vapor generation for simultaneous determination of arsenic, antimony, bismuth, germanium, tin, selenium, tellurium and mercury by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 20 (2005) 1365-1373. Link
  • M. Grotti, F.Soggia, C.Ianni, R.Frache. Trace metals distributions in coastal sea ice of Terra Nova Bay, Ross Sea, Antarctica. Antarctic Science, 17 (2005) 289-300. Link
  • M. Grotti, E. Magi, R. Leardi. Selection of internal standards in inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry by principal component analysis. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 18 (2003) 274-281. Link
  • M. Grotti, C. Lagomarsino, J.-M. Mermet. Effect of operating conditions on excitation temperature and electron number density in axially-viewed ICP-OES with the introduction of vapors or aerosols. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 21 (2006) 963-969. Link

Staff

Marco Grotti Marco GROTTI
Associate Professor
e-mail: grotti@unige.it
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-6956-5761
Short CV
 
Francisco Ardini Francisco ARDINI
Tenure-track Assistant Professor
e-mail: ardini@unige.it
ORCID ID: 0000-0003-0094-9227
Short CV
 
Francesco Soggia Francesco SOGGIA
EP Technician
e-mail: soggia@chimica.unige.it
Short CV
 
Stefano Bertinetti Stefano BERTINETTI
PhD Student
Thesis title: Isotopic analysis of Antarctic atmospheric particulate
e-mail: bertinettistefano@gmail.com

 
Jessica Pittaluga Jessica PITTALUGA
Master Student
Thesis title: Iron speciation in seawater by CLE-AdSV

 
Greta Dan Greta DAN
Master Student in co-tutoring with Prof. Kevin Francesconi (University of Graz, Austria)
Thesis title: Speciation analysis of arsenic, chromium and mercury in specimens of the Antarctic scallop Adamussium Colbecki collected from 1995 to 2009

 
Ines Tassano Ines TASSANO
Master Student in co-tutoring with ARPAL Genova
Thesis title: Dimensional and elemental analysis of nanoparticles in environmental matrices

 
Alessia Vecchio Alessia VECCHIO
Master Student
Thesis title: Isotopic analysis of Antarctic environmental matrices by ICP-MS

 
Dalia Gobbato Dalia GOBBATO
Bachelor Student
Thesis title: Elemental and isotopic analysis of Arctic PM10 samples

 
Danilo Grattarola Danilo GRATTAROLA
Master Student in co-tutoring with ARPAL Genova
Thesis title: Analysis of nanoparticles in environmental samples by ICP-MS

Former students (last five years)

  • Clelia SERENI, Copper determination in environmental and biological matrices, in co-tutoring with Prof. Martin Resano (University of Zaragoza, Spain). Master Degree in Chemical Science (29 March 2019).
  • Claudia CERUTTI, Food analysis by plasma source atomic spectrometry using an innovative sample introduction system, in co-tutoring with Prof. José Luis Todolí (University of Alicante, Spain). Master Degree in Chemical Science (29 March 2019). Link to CV.
  • Beatrice ZOPPI, Chemical analysis of atmospheric particulate samples collected from polar regions. Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and Chemical Technologies (15 February 2019).
  • Matilda CICALA, Development of analytical methods for the determination of lead and strontium isotopic ratios and their application in environmental studies. Master Degree in Chemical Sciences (23 March 2018).
  • Alessia VECCHIO, Analysis of atmospheric particulate collected from the Arctic. Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and Chemical Technologies (16 February 2018).
  • Cristina GENOVESE, Iron speciation analysis of Antarctic sea ice by CLE-AdCSV. PhD student on leave from the University of Tasmania (Australia). Period: February-July 2017.
  • Nicole DE GIORGI, Isotopic analysis of environmental samples collected from polar regions via ICP-MS. Master Degree in Chemical Sciences (28 October 2016).
  • Clelia SERENI, Trace element analysis of Antarctic snow samples. Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and Chemical Technologies (28 October 2016).
  • Fiorenza CRITELLI, Chemical characterization of atmospheric particulate collected from the Arctic. Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and Chemical Technologies (22 July 2016).
  • Valentina ROSA, Use of atomic mass spectrometry techniques for the characterization of raw materials and dust from processes industries. Master Degree in Chemical Sciences in co-tutoring with ARPAL Savona (23 March 2016).
  • Federico BENVENUTO, Determination of trace element bioavailability in environmental samples by sequential chemical extractions. Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and Chemical Technologies (23 March 2016).
  • Fabio FOSSATI, Trace element bioavailability in marine sediments from the Arctic fjord Kongsfjorden. Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and Chemical Technologies (23 March 2016).
  • Nicolas PALA, Retrospective analysis of trace element accumulation in samples of Adamussium colbecki collected on 1996-2009 and stored at the Antarctic Environmental Specimen Bank. Bachelor Degree in Environmental Sciences (14 March 2016). Link to CV.
  • Andrea BAZZANO, Isotopic analysis of environmental samples using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. PhD in Chemical Sciences and Technologies in co-tutoring with Ghent University (08 March 2016).
  • Elena SODDU, Speciation and bioavailability of dissolved iron in Antarctic waters during Austral summer 2014. Master Degree in Chemical Sciences (05 February 2016).
  • Miguelina FERNANDES, Synthesis and analytical determination of selenium organic compounds of toxicological and nutritional interest. Master Degree in Chemical Sciences (24 July 2015).
  • Monika MARCINKOWSKA, Speciation analysis of Se and As by HTLC/ICP-MS. PhD student on leave from Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland (Erasmus+ Program). Period: July-September 2015.
  • Amanda TEROL, Instrumental techniques hyphenated with mass spectrometry for the determination of chemical species of environmental, nutritional and toxicological interest. Pos-doc student (Grant from Fundación Ramón Areces, Madrid). Period: October 2013-September 2015.

Collaborations

International collaborations

  • Martin Resano (University of Zaragoza), Copper speciation analyis of biological samples by ICP-MS.
  • Delphine Lannuzel (University of Tasmania), Iron biogeochemistry in sea ice.
  • Frank Vanhaecke (University of Ghent), Isotopic analysis of strontium and lead in Antarctic snow.
  • Jan Koschorreck (German Federal Environmental Agency), Environmental specimen banking.
  • Kevin Francesconi (University of Graz), Arsenic speciation in Antarctic organisms.
  • Josè Luis Todolì (University of Alicante), Plasma source atomic spectrometry: fundamentals and applications.
  • Jean-Michel Mermet (Spectroscopy Forever), Plasma source atomic spectrometry: fundamentals and applications.
  • Dmitri Katskov (Technikon Pretoria), Mechanisms of electrothermal atomization.

Networks

PNRA

In the framework of PNRA (Italian National Program for Antarctic Research) and RIS (Research in Svalbard) projects, the group has established strong connections with research units of the following institutions: Italian National Research Council, National Institute for Nuclear Physics, and Univerities of Florence, Perugia, Pisa, Turin and Venice.

 
BCAA

In the context of BCAA (Antarctic Environmental Specimen Bank), we are linked to the International Environmental Specimen Bank Group and to the Museo Nazionale dell’Antartide.

 
ERBFacility

In the framework of the EU COST Action 16224, we are involved in the scientific network aimed at establishing the European Raptor Biomonitoring Facility.

How to join us

  • If you are a Master student at the University of Genoa: there are open positions for your thesis in our group. Just contact us.
  • If you are a Master student of an European University, you can join us through the Erasmus+ Programme either under the "study" or "traineeship" type of mobility, and perform part of the thesis in our group. If you are interested, please contact us at least 6 months before the beginning of the stage period.
  • If you are a prospective PhD student, please note that you must apply in May-June for a Doctorate course starting on November 1st. More information can be found here.
  • If you wish to join us for a post-lauream traineeship or for a post-doc position, you are very welcome, but you have to find an external sponsorship.

Short CV

Marco GROTTI

Marco Grotti was born in Genoa in 1968. He graduated in 1992, received his PhD in Chemistry in 1996 and he is currently Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Genoa. His research interests comprise fundamental studies in atomic spectrometry, development of new analytical methods for elemental, isotopic and speciation analysis of environmental matrices and their application to the study of polar ecosystems. He collaborates with prestigious research groups in the field and he has been involved in >20 research projects, funded by the European Union, the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research and the National Research Council. In the framework of PNRA (Italian National Program for Antarctic Research) and RIS (Research in Svalbard) projects, he participated on six expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica, he is responsible of research units and supervisor of the scientific projects related to the Antarctic Environmental Specimen Bank. He is member of CONISMA (National Association for Marine Sciences). He acted as project referee for various foreign institutions and he is regular referee for the main analytical and environmental chemistry journals. Author of ~90 articles on ISI journals (h-index:21; citations: ~1400), 1 textbook, and >100 Congress presentations.

Francisco ARDINI

Francisco Ardini was born in Santa Rosa de Calamuchita (Argentina) in 1983. He graduated in Chemical Sciences in 2008 and earned his PhD degree in Chemical Sciences and Technologies in 2012 at the University of Genoa. In 2011, in the framework of his doctorate, he carried out a period of three months of research activity at the University of Alicante (Spain). Currently, he is a tenure-track assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry of the University of Genoa. His research is focussed on the study of major elements, trace elements and organometallic compounds in different environmental matrices, mainly from polar areas (seawater, snow, sea ice, brine, particulate matter, sediments and organisms), and the development of new analytical methods (mainly based on ICP spectrometry) for the determination of these parameters. He took part in several projects of research, including PRIN ('Progetti di Ricerca di Interesse Nazionale', i.e. Research Projects of National Interest) and PNRA ('Progetto Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartide', i.e. National Project of Research in Antarctica), in which framework he took part in the XXXI and XXXII Italian expeditions in Antarctica; moreover, he is involved in polar environmental studies carried out in Ny-Ålesund (Svalbard, Norway). He has authored 26 publications in international journals and 32 communications at national and international congresses, and he conducts referal activity for several international journals of the field.

Francesco SOGGIA

Francesco Soggia was born in Cagliari (Italy) in 1956. He obtained his high-school diploma in chemistry and has carried out research activities at the Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry of Genoa University, as EP (High Professionality) technician. His scientific interests concern the marine environment, mainly the development of analytical procedures for trace element determination in real matrices. He has been involved in the National Program of Research in Antarctica (PNRA) since 1988, participating on six expeditions and as responsible of research units. Since 1998, he is also responsible for the collections of samples of BCAA (Antarctic Environmental Specimen Bank). He is member of CONISMA (National Association for Marine Sciences). He published about 50 articles on ISI journals, allowing the development of standard protocols for sample collection and storage in view of future investigations and proving the suitability of BCAA to support studies on biogeochemical cycles of the elements and to select biomonitors for the Antarctic coastal ecosystem.