Cinzia Caggia

Professor of Agricultural Microbiology [AGR/16]
Office: Via Santa Sofia, 98 - 1° piano
Phone: 095 7580218
Web Site:
Office Hours: Monday from 15:00 to 17:00 | Friday from 12:00 to 14:00

Personal Info 

Born in Vittoria (RG) on September 19th, 1971

Nationality: Italian


Married and mother of three children: Roberta (04/04/2004); Stefano (08/04/2005); Germano (11/10/2010)

Contact:; 095-7580218

University of Catania: Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Di3A), via Santa Sofia, 98 95124 Catania (CT), I piano.

Full professor of Agrarian Microbiology (SSD: AGR16)

Cinzia was born on 19th September 1971, in Vittoria (RG).  She graduated in Technology Food Sciences, at full marks, in 1995 at University of Catania. She has attended the “Food Biotechnology” PhD course at the University of Catania. In the period between 1997 and 1998 she attended the Wine Biotechnology Institute of University of Stellenbosh, in South Africa, under the supervision of Prof. I.S. Pretorius, working on genetic manipulation of industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae wine strains, with particular regard on genetic transformation. On March 2000, she awarded the PhD qualification with a final dissertation on “Genetically improvement of oenological Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains”.

From 1999 to October 2001 she has been a Contract Researcher at Department of Horticulture, Plant Science and Food Science Technology (DOFATA) - Food Science Technology Division, Catania, working on a scientific research project: “Employment of New Technological Methods Applied to Food Biotechnology”.

From July 2000 to September 2000 she attended the Department of Viticulture and Enology, in Davis, University of California, USA, under the supervision of Prof. L. Bisson, working on a proteomic project applied to membrane proteins of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains involved in stuck fermentations.

From October 2001 to 2018 she has been associate  professor of Agricultural Microbiology and since 2018 she is Full professor. Cinzia’s scientific activity is carried out in the food microbiology field. She is promoter and supervisor of several PhD theses and co-author of more than 100 publications. She also performs research projects in collaboration with several local and international companies and Universities promoting trans-disciplinary developments.

Research fields

Cinzia's research activities mainly dial whit fermented foods and beverages, with particular attention to lactic, acetic bacteria, yeasts and on pathogenic or spoilage microorganisms of food interest. The latest research activities dial with the characterization of probiotic strains isolated from food matrices with the aim to develop innovative food and/or functional beverages, with special attention to the influence of strains on the dynamics the human gut microbiota.

The main lines of research are listed below:

•        Study of microbial dynamics during fermentation process (cheeses, olives, sourdough, wine, vinegar, etc);

•        Phenotypic and genotypic characterization of food-related microorganisms at species and strain level;

•        Selection of probiotic strains and monitoring of their survival in food matrices and in human intestinal tract;

•        Study of vaginal microbiota;

•        Microbiological safety of food: isolation and identification of pathogens;

•        Development of starter cultures for fermented foods: biotechnological characterization of strains;

•        Validation of technological processes on a laboratory scale and pilot plant;  

•        Selection of yeast strains with oenological characteristics;

•        Study of antibiotic resistance within the genus Enterococcus isolated from environmental and from food matrices;

•        Evaluation of water sanitation efficiency of Constructed Wetland (CW) system;

•        Improvement of microbiological quality and shelf-life of minimally processed vegetables.



She is tutor for the ongoing doctorate thesis: “Study of antibiotic resistance in enterococci strains from different sources” (XXXI cycle) carrying out in collaboration with Prof. Teresa Coque (Hospital Universitario Ramòn y Cajal, Madrid, Spain).


She has been tutor for the following doctorate theses:

1.       “Genomic and phenotypic characterization of Lactobacillus strains from human and food origin” (XXIV cycle) carried out in collaboration with Prof. De Vos W at "Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, Division of Microbiology and Epidemiology”, University of Helsinki, Finland.

2.       “Probiotics features of food-associated Lactobacillus rhamnosus strains (XXII cycle) carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Food Research of Norwich (UK), Model Gut Exploitation Platform.

3.       “Characterization of a novel bacteriocin to be used as food-preservative"(XXII cycle).

4.       “Bacterial ecology in minimally processed vegetables and application of a bacteriocin as biopreservatives” (XX cycle), carried out in collaboration with Prof. Todd R. Klaenhammer, Department of Food Science of North Caroline State University (USA), within the project “Functional genomic analysis of bacteriocin production in lactic acid bacteria”

5.       “Caratterizzazione della popolazione di batteri lattici isolati durante il processo di vinificazione” - “Characterization of lactic acid bacteria isolated from wine-mking process” (XVIII cycle);

6.       “Identificazione dei batteri acetici isolati da aceto balsamico tradizionale” - “Identification of acetic acid bacteria isolated from traditional balsamic vinegar” (XVII cycle) carried out in collaboration with the Lehrstuhl für Mikrobiologie Technische Universität München, Germany.


She has been co-tutor for doctorate thesis: Lactobacillus rhamnosus: a versatile probiotic species for food and human applications” (XXVIII cycle), carried out in collaboration with Prof. E. Zoetendal, Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

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Main research lines

Cinzia’s scientific activity is carried out in the food microbiology field; in particular she focuses her study on the microbiology of fermented foods. Her research subjects concern the selection and the taxonomic study of microorganisms, above all lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, yeasts and pathogens involved in the production of several natural fermented foods. Negative aspects (such as spoilage, diseases) of microorganisms are also studied as well as positive health effects of (probiotic) microorganisms and the production of antimicrobial compounds (bacteriocins) are the main topics of her research. Here there is a short summary of the investigated subjects:

  • Microbial population in fermented foods (eg cheese, table olive, sourdough, wine etc):  isolation of lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria and yeasts; phenotypic and genotypic characterization of micro-organisms
  • Identification at species and strain level: Microbial safety of foods: Detection and identification of pathogens; Use of bacteriocins for bio-preservation
  • Biocontrol
  • Development of starter cultures for food fermentation: Biotechnology characterization of strains; Food processing in laboratory scale (using pilot plant);
  • Probiotics: In vitro assays for probiotic features of lactobacilli; Application of static and dynamic digestion model systems.