Dr. Rosario Iacono

Contact / Address

Dr. Rosario Iacono

Department of Soil Ecology
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4 | D-06120 Halle/Saale

Dr. Rosario Iacono

Research Interests

Hydroponics 2019. Photo:Rosario Iacono

Protecting biodiversity while maintaining agricultural productivity is essential for the future of food security. Plant-microbe interactions have been crucial for plant existance in mainland and fundamental in the development of human civilization. They will continue to be vital as we seek to cope with the challenges posed by climate change.

My research broadly focuses on investigating the role of microbial diversity in how ecosystems respond to environmental changes. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for reducing biodiversity loss and developing sustainable agricultural practices that can adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

In today's age of big data, the ability to accurately analyze and interpret vast amounts of information is critical. This enables us to gain the insights needed to make informed decisions about ecosystem management and conservation. With a background in agricultural sciences and biology, I bring a comprehensive understanding of ecological principles and a keen interest in data analysis. I employ univariate and multivariate statistical methods, utilizing tools such as R and Python, to dissect complex datasets and uncover patterns that inform our understanding of the effects of climate change on biodiversity.

My approach is holistic, considering the various intensities of land use and their impacts on ecosystems. By integrating cutting-edge data analysis techniques with ecological research, I aim to contribute to the development of strategies that promote sustainable land use, mitigate biodiversity loss, and enhance ecosystem resilience in the face of environmental change.

Additionally, I have a strong interest in innovative agricultural techniques such as vertical farming and agrivoltaics. These methods offer promising solutions to address climate change, ensure food security, and enhance the sustainability of agriculture. Vertical farming reduces the land requirements of food production (land sparing approach), while agrivoltaics combines agricultural production with solar energy generation (land sharing approach), optimizing land use and reducing environmental impact. My goal is to explore and advance these technologies to protect biodiversity and support a sustainable future for agriculture.

Current Project

Graphical rappresentation of land use intensity levels on forest and grassland

The  (BE) are a large-scale long-term monitoring platform set of forest and grassland plots spread over three regions across Germany.

The of the BE aims to investigate the soil microbial diversity and community composition of grassland and forest ecosystems along land-use gradients. Within the project my focus is the fungal community in the soil.

Within this project my aim is to:

- Assess the effects of land use management intensities on the fungal communities in the soil in forest and grassland

- Determine causal effects of biodiversity perturbation in response to climate change under different levels of anthropocentric interference

- Provide knowledge that can support sustainable land use and reduce biodiversity loss in forest and grassland ecosystems.

The Biodiversity Exploratories (BE) is a large-scale, long-term monitoring platform comprising forest and grassland plots across three regions in Germany.

Core project 8 of the BE focuses on investigating soil microbial diversity and community composition in grassland and forest ecosystems along land-use gradients. My research within this project centers on the soil fungal community.

My specific aims within this project are to:

  • Assess the impact of varying land-use management intensities on soil fungal communities in both forest and grassland ecosystems.
  • Determine the causal effects of biodiversity perturbations in response to climate change across different levels of human interference.
  • Provide insights that support sustainable land use and mitigate biodiversity loss in forest and grassland ecosystems.


  • International Mycorrhizae Society (IMS), Member, 2024
  • German Society for Plant Science (DBG), Member, 2024
  • Association for Vertical Farming (AVF), Individual member, 2023

Scientific involvement

  • Managing director of the newsletter of the International Mycorrhizae Society (IMS)

Teaching qualifications

Associate Fellow Teacher of the Higher Education Academy

CV / Scientific Career

since 2023

Postdoctoral researcher

Department of Soil Ecology
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Halle (Saale), Germany

2023 - 2023

Research Fellow

Deprtment of Agriculture, Food And Environment (Di3A)
University of Catania
Catania, Italy

2022 - 2022


Department of Agriculture. Food and Environment (Di3A)
University of Catania
Catania, Italy

2021 - 2022

Founder & CEO

Kasveista UG
Berlin, Germany

2020 - 2021

Visiting Scientist

Liebniz Centre for Agricultural landscape Research (ZALF)
Müncheberg, Germany

2016 - 2020

PhD Student

Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS),
Aberystwyth University
Aberystwyth, Wales, UK

2011 - 2012


Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Production, Landscape, Agroenergy
University of Milan
Milan, Italy

List of Publications

Iacono R., Slavov G.T., Davey C., Clifton-Brown J., Allison G., Bosch M. (2023): Variability of cell wall recalcitrance and composition in genotypes of Miscanthus from different genetic groups and geographical origin, Front. Plant Sci. volume: 14, DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2023.1155188

Bhatia R., Dalton S., Roberts L.A., Morón-García O., Iacono R., Kosik O., Gallagher J.A., Bosch M. (2019): Modified expression of ZmMYB167 in Brachypodium distachyon and Zea mays leads to increased cell wall lignin and phenolic content.  Sci.Rep. 9,8800. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-45225-9

Iacono R., Lancilli C., Nocito F.F. (2011): Regulation of sulphate uptake in Arabidopsis thaliana: The possible role of STRAM1. Minerva Biotecnologica, 23 (suppl. 1), 62-63

Conference Contributions

Conference abstract

Iacono R., Allison G., Bosch M. (2020):Effects of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation on phenological, physiological and biomass conversion traits in natural accessions and hybrids of Miscanthus spp. Abstract for Monogram 2020 Conference (Cancelled for COVID19). University of Dundee, Dundee (UK).


Barbera C.A., Iacono R. (2022). Emerging evidence on rice (O. sativa L.) irrigated with water contaminated by residual pharmaceutical chemicals. International One Health Conference 2022, Catania (Italy)

Iacono R., Allison G., Boch M. (2018): Miscanthus cell wall recalcitrance to deconstruction: Can we tar a whole genus with the same brush?,VIII Plant Cell Wall Conference, Asilomar (California, USA)


Iacono R., Allison G., Boch M. (2019). Assessing the variability of cell wall characteristics in Miscanthus from various genetic backgrounds, XV Cell Wall Meeting (2019),Cambridge, UK

Iacono R., Allison G., Boch M. (2019). Biomass fit for biorefineries: detailed characterization of lignocellulosic biomass from 12 Miscanthus  genotypes, IV LBNet Meeting, Manchester, UK

Iacono R., Allison G., Boch M. (2018). Miscanthus cell wall recalcitrance to deconstruction: Can we tar a whole genus with the same brush? III LBNet Meeting, Manchester, UK