The intertidal environment represents for me the most fascinating ecosystem worldwide. Marine life fades into terrestrial habitats through several physiological, morphological and symbiotic adaptations. It is a natural laboratory where environmental stressors shape and guide the evolution of life, especially in the light of the dramatic changes led by rapid global warming. In the tropics, mangroves are intertidal systems that allow us to unravel evolutionary trajectories and unique symbioses. My interest has led me to study these systems for several years around the Indian Ocean, in countries such as Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa, and the East Atlantic Ocean in Cameroon and Guinea-Bissau. Taking part in different European projects, I obtained my MSc (University of Florence) and later my PhD with prof. Daniele Daffonchio at the University of Milan. After my PhD I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at KAUST where I focused my research on the Red Sea mangrove ecosystem. During this period, I also expanded my expertise to another challenging environment: the desert. In particular, I took part in projects aiming to disentangle the ecological interactions between microbes and desert plants working in the Sahara, Namib and Arabian deserts. I am current a postdoctoral fellow in the research group of Dr. Karen Diele at Edinburgh Napier University where I study the holobiome of mangrove forests with particular focus toward restoration ecology. This position leads to study one of the most biodiverse mangrove forests in the world, in Indonesia, thanks to the NERC project 2018-2021 ‘As good as (g)old’ led by Dr. Diele.
As an ecologist I am interested in the complex mechanisms of interactions among organisms. My approach embraces different level of investigations, ranging from molecular to physiological and behavioural analysis to study the mechanisms of adaptation that organisms undertake in challenging environments. Tropical and subtropical mangroves, as well as deserts, offer a unique opportunity to study extreme conditions that can allow us to explore unprecedented adaptations and novel forms of symbiosis and interactions that shape the life of extreme environment.
Participation to grants successfully funded
1) 2018: KAUST Competitive Research Grant (CRG) – Red Sea Research Center (2019-2021) Project title: The role of the bacterial symbiome at the gill-water (air) interface in the evolution towards terrestrialisation (Microlanding). Research grant: 820,000 US$.
2) 2018: KAUST Red Sea Research Center Grant for developing an R course for Ecological application. 5,000 US$.
3) 2017: KAUST Center Competitive Funding – Red Sea Research Center (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2018) Project title: Role of oxygen availability in shaping the bacterial microbiome of mangrove/reef animal model species. 35,000 US$.
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Marco_Fusi