Cecilia Biancacci

        Picture of Cecilia Biancacci

PhD student

I am a Sardinian marine biologist with experience in aquaculture, especially echinoculture and microalgae cultures as larvae feed. In my PhD I now focus on the aquaculture of a red seaweed.

I have experience in the analysis of biological data, in understanding of biological cycles and in aquaculture techniques. I am currently developing my competences in molecular biology and biochemical analysis.

I love to work in the field and I am a passionate diver, with a Dive Leader Stage Decompression license.

Contact details:
  • Cecilia.Biancacci@sams.ac.uk
  • +44 (0)1631 559000

  • Linkedin
  • cibi90

Establishment of Osmundea pinnatifida mariculture

My project is multidisciplinary and focuses on the cultivation of Osmundea pinnatifida, a small red seaweed also called pepper dulse. This species is becoming to be particularly appreciate due to its unique taste, and is used as seasoning, charming chefs all over Europe.

Right now it is just collected from the wild and sold dry by different companies, even in Scotland. However, natural harvesting of seaweeds is not a sustainable practise and due to the increasing demand of seaweeds and seaweed products, aquaculture is becoming a must, and new species are starting to be investigated for biochemical/nutraceutical/pharmaceutical applications.

To date, no cultivation systems for O.pinnatifida have been established. However, establishing a successful cultivation of this species will guarantee a continued production of it, without seasonal limits and without affecting natural populations. It could also guarantee the tailoring of the product according to the market needs.

My project focuses on molecular analyses of the species investigated, using DNA barcode on rbcL gene and phylogenetic analyses of the samples investigated within them and with other red seaweeds.

The nutrient profile of wild and cultivated samples is being investigated in order to assess the protein, carbohydrates, lipids, pigments, phenolic compounds, antioxidant compounds, minerals and metals composition of the species. This is important to identify the best moment for harvesting wild samples to start a cultivation and also to tailor the product in order to meet the demands of the market in term of product quality.

Different cultivation systems (in tank and out in the sea) are tested in order to obtain an increase in yield and ensure a sustainable and efficient production of the species.

Cryopreservation methods will be investigated to try to store the most promising strains.


Dr Michele Stanley (SAMS)

Prof John Day (SAMS)

Dr Gordon J. McDougall (The James Hutton Institute)

Marie Clare Russell (FAI, Ardtoe)


Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre


University of Highlands and Islands

Peer-reviewed publications

Secci M., Biancacci C., Giglioli A., Loddo D., Viviana P., Addis P. (submitted) Small-scale spatial distribution of the fan mussel Pinna nobilis (Linnaeus 1758) around the S. Antioco Island (Sardinia, Italy, western Mediterranean): insights for conservation.

Addis P., Secci M., Biancacci C., Loddo D., Cuccu D., Palmas F., Sabatini A. (2016) Reproductive status of Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, during migration off the coast of Sardinia (western Mediterranean). Fisheries Research, 181: 137-147.

Conference talks

Establishment of Osmundea pinnatifida mariculture. Seaweed training and workshop, organized by Phycomorph, 15-19 Feb 2016, Kavala, Greece

Establishment of Osmundea pinnatifida mariculture. 3 minutes presentation at the 22nd International Seaweed Symposium, 19-24 June 2016, Copenhagen, Denmark

Poster presentations

IBioIC Conference: Jan 2016 and 2017, Glasgow, UK

22nd International Seaweed Symposium: 19-24 Jun 2016, Copenhagen, Denmark

Nordic Seaweed Conference: 12-13 Oct 2016, Grenaa, Denmark

British Phycological Society Conference: 11-13 Jan 2017, Bangor, Wales, UK

Employment history

Jan-Jun 2015: Meristic data detection, biological, bionomic and age determination in colonies of coral seas of Sardinia within the project "Management measures aimed at rebuilding stocks of red coral”. University of Cagliari, Department of Life Sciences and Environment, Italy.

May-Oct 2013: Fellowship in 'Characterisation of the nutraceutical properties of processed fish products'. University of Cagliari, Department of Life Sciences and Environment, Italy.



Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science obtained at the University of Tor Vergata (Rome), Italy. Thesis title: The correspondence analysis applied to ecological data

Master’s degree in Marine Bio-ecology obtained with full marks at the University of Cagliari, Italy.

Teaching experience

Tutor for practical and theoretical lessons during my Master course (Cagliari, 2013-2014) regarding sea urchins and microalgae aquaculture.

Fieldwork experience

Biological survey of coral colonies; collection of sea urchin (from coastal water and diving); collection of data during tagging activity on Thunnus thynnus specimens; collection of seaweeds from the seashore; commercial survey of collected sea urchins and analyses of the data.

Public engagement / outreach experience

STEM ambassador for IBioIC since 2015: I have been delivering a practical and theoretical lesson about seaweeds at Oban High School involving 100 S2 pupils as part of the Oban, Lorn and the Isles Festival of the Sea.

30 April 2018 'Seaweed aquaculture: the future of ocean farming.' A public lecture as part of the Inverness Science Festival

Professional training courses

Dec 2016-present: IBioIC SysMIC course (online)

16-17 Mar 2017: Bioinformatics course, IBioIC Glasgow