Research Interests

​Professor Daffonchio's research deals with the microbial ecology and biotechnology of complex ecosystems in conventional and extreme marine and terrestrial habitats. His research is spanning from basic aspects of microbial ecology by the application of synthetic ecology approaches to applied aspects for the environmental protection of threatened habitats and the sustainability of agriculture in arid ecosystems. Professor Daffonchio is developing research on the exploration and characterization of extreme marine and terrestrial environments, both pristine and polluted. He is actually dealing with the study and exploitation of extremophile microorganisms along the water stress continuity from the Arabian desert to the mangrove fringe and the depths of the brine pools in the Red Sea. A particular focus is on the bacteria-host symbiosis with plants and animals in relation to water and salinity stresses. 

Selected Publications

  • Ensuring safety in artisanal food microbiology
    L. Cocolin, M. Gobbetti, E. Neviani, D. Daffonchio
    Nature Microbiology, 1:16171, (2016)
  • Stone-dwelling actinobacteria Blastococcus saxobsidens, Modestobacter marinus and Geodermatophilus obscurus proteog...
    H. Sghaier, D. Daffonchio, et al.
    ISME Journal, 10:21-29, (2016)
  • Environmental conditions and community evenness determine the outcome of biological invasion
    K. De Roy, D. Daffonchio, N. Boon, et al.
    Nature Communications, 4:1383, (2013)
  • A drought resistance-promoting microbiome is selected by root system under desert farming
    R. Marasco, D. Daffonchio, et al.
    PLoS One, 7:e48479, (2012)
  • Sulfur cycling and methanogenesis primarily drive microbial colonization of the highly sulfidic Urania deep hypersa...
    S. Borin, D. Daffonchio, et al.
    PNAS, 106:9151-9156 , (2009)
  • Initial community evenness favours functionality under selective stress
    L. Wittebolle, D. Daffonchio, et al.
    Nature, 458:623-626, (2009)
  • Paternal transmission of symbiotic bacteria in malaria vectors
    C. Damiani C, D. Daffonchio, G. Favia, et al.
    Current Biology, 18:R1087-R1088 , (2008)
  • Bacteria of the genus Asaia stably associate with Anopheles stephensi, an Asian malarial mosquito vector
    Favia G, D. Daffonchio, et al.
    PNAS, 104:9047-9051, (2007)
  • Stratified prokaryote network in the oxic-anoxic transition of a deep sea halocline
    D. Daffonchio, et al.
    Nature, 440:203-207, (2006)
  • The enigma of prokaryotic life in deep hypersaline anoxic basins
    P.W.J.J. Van der Wielen, Daffonchio D., et al.
    Science, 307:121-123, (2005)

Education Profile

  • ​​​​Post Doctoral Scientist, LabMet, University of Gent, Gent, Belgium, 1994
  • Ph.D., Chemistry Biochemistry and Ecology of Pesticides and Xenobiotics, University of Milan, Milan, Italy, 1993
  • M.Sc, University of Milan, Milan, Italy, 1988

Professional Profile

  • ​April 2014-at present: Professor of Bioscience, BESE, KAUST, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Oct 2010-March 2014: Full Professor, DeFENS, University of Milan, Italy (now, leave of absence until March 2019).
  • Mar 2002-Oct 2010: Associate Professor, DiSTAM, University of Milan, Italy.
  • Nov 1998- Oct 1999: Adjunct Professor of Industrial Microbiology, University of Urbino, Italy.
  • Jul 1995-Feb 2002: Assistant Professor (permanent position), DiSTAM, University of Milan, Italy.
  • Aug 1994-Jun 1995: Post-Doctoral Fellow, DiSTAM, University of Milan, Italy.
  • Jan-Jul 1994: Post-Doctoral Scientist, Laboratory of Microbial Ecology, Gent University, Belgium.
  • Nov 1992-Dec 1993: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Food Science and Microbiology (DiSTAM), University of Milan, Italy. 

Scientific and Professional Memberships

  • ​Editorial Board member of the scientific journals
  • Annals of Microbiology (2006-present)
  • BioMed Research International (2008-present)
  • Environmental Microbiology (2014-present) 
  • Journal of Microbiological Methods (2011-present)
  • Microbiological Research (2013-present)
  • Plos One (2014-present)
  • Research in Microbiology (2012- present)
  • Scientific Reports (2016-present) 


  • ​President of the Italian Society of Agriculture, Environmental and Food Microbiology, SIMTREA 

KAUST Affiliations

  • ​Red Sea Research Center(RSRC)
  • Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE)