Simona Paolacci


I completed my B.Sc. in Environmental Sciences at Sapienza University of Rome, in Italy, with a final project in phytosociology titled: ‘Flora, vegetation and landscape of Genazzano Woodland’. In the same college I obtained my M.Sc. in Environmental Monitoring and Restoration. For my master thesis I worked on the enhancement of adventitious roots production finalised to improve phytoremediation systems. (Thesis title: ‘Improved rhizogen capacity in tobacco’s leaf explants transgenic for a gene Aux/IAA involved in the Auxin regulation’). In 2016 I successfully defended my PhD thesis in plant physiology: ‘A comparative study of ecophysiological traits of the invasive species Lemna minuta Kunth and the native Lemna minor Linnaeus.’ The aim of my study was to identify the environmental factors that promote the spread of alien species. In particular, I observed the differences between the two species in physiological changes in response to environmental factors such as water chemistry, temperature and light. After an experience as a research assistant in a project investigating the effects of UVA and UVB radiation on Arabidopsis thaliana, I have started a postdoc in phytoremediation of aquaculture wastewater using duckweed.

Research Interests

At the moment I am developing a system that converts aquaculture wastewater into valuable proteins. My study, funded by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, aims to make freshwater aquaculture more sustainable by removing the excess of nutrients from the water using duckweed. The treated water can be re-used in a recirculating system or safely discharged in the environment. Valuable proteins are extracted from the biomass produced and used to integrate the fish diet. In general, I have a particular interest in circular economy, I am also interested in aquaponic systems and in any activity looking for smart solutions to improve food production reducing the environmental impact. My research interests also include the ecology of invasive species and the change in the plant communities. I enjoy investigating differences, in genetic traits, between alien and native species.


Paolacci, S., Jansen, M. A., & Harrison, S. (2018). Competition between Lemna minuta, Lemna minor, and Azolla filiculoides. Growing fast or being steadfast?. Frontiers in chemistry, 6.

Paolacci, S., Harrison, S., & Jansen, M. A. (2018). Are alien species necessarily stress sensitive? A case study on Lemna minuta and Lemna minor. Flora, 249, 31-39.

Paolacci, S., Harrison, S., Jansen, M. A.K. (2018) The invasive duckweed Lemna minuta Kunth displays a different light utilisation strategy than native Lemna minor Linnaeus. Aquatic Botany. Vol. 146C. 8-14

Paolacci, S., Harrison, S., & Jansen, M. A. (2016). A comparative study of the nutrient responses of the invasive duckweed Lemna minuta, and the native, co-generic species Lemna minor. Aquatic Botany, 134, 47-53.



Simona Paolacci

Contact Details:


Postdoctoral Researcher


Prof Marcel Jansen

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

An Scoil Eolaíochtaí Bitheolaíocha, Domhaneolaíocha agus Comhshaoil

University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland T23 N73K