Jason Fontana

still under construction


Hello. I am a biotechnologist. biohacker. blogger. photographer.
I am a geek. I love what I do.
This is my hub.



Synthetic Biology

I'm a Master student at the Armenise-Harvard Laboratory of Synthetic and Reconstructive Biology in Trento. We focus on artificial life.


I'm the founding President of Open Wet Lab, the first biohacking organization in Italy, based at MuSe, Trento. We want to bring Do-It-Yourself biology to the people.


I write about science, debunking and technology. I'm a contributor to CheFuturo!. Looking for my writing?



I'm enthusiast photographer. Head over at my portfolio website to take a look.
I also write photo essays .

My photos are available in high quality print and canvas format. More info here.




Master Student

Mansy Lab

I'm a Master Student at the Armenise-Harvard Laboratory of Synthetic and Reconstructive Biology.


Funding President

Open Wet Lab

I'm the founding president of Open Wet Lab, the first biohacking organization in Italy.




I'm an Author for CheFuturo!. I write about science and technology.



Biomolecular Science and Technology

University of Trento

I started Biomolecular Science and Technology at the University of Trento in 2009. I got my Bachelor Degree in 2012.




I was part of the UNITN-TRENTO team at the 2012 iGEM competition. We engineered E. coli to clean statues and monuments from those ugly black crusts caused by pollution. At the World Championship at MIT, we scored among the best 16 in the World.


Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology

University of Trento

I'm enrolled to the 2nd year of the Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology Master Degree at the University of Trento. I expect to graduate in September 2014.


Lentini et al, Nature Communications, 2014 (in press)
Integrating artificial with natural cells to translate chemical messages that direct E. coli behavior

Previous efforts to control cellular behavior have largely relied upon various forms of genetic engineering. Once the genetic content of a living cell is modified, the behavior of that cell typically changes as well. However, other methods of cellular control are possible. All cells sense and respond to their environment. Therefore, artificial, non-living cellular mimics could be engineered to activate or repress already existing natural sensory pathways of living cells through chemical communication. Here we describe the construction of such a system. The artificial cells expand the senses of E. coli by translating a chemical message that E. coli cannot sense on its own to a molecule that activates a natural cellular response. This methodology could open new opportunities in engineering cellular behavior without exploiting genetically modified organisms.

Dassi et al, Journal of Biotechnology, 2014
Enhanced microbial diversity in the saliva microbiome induced by short-term probiotic intake revealed by 16S rRNA sequencing on the IonTorrent PGM platform

Microbial communities populating several human body habitats are important determinants of human health. Cultivation-free community-wide approaches like bacterial 16S rRNA sequencing recently rev- olutionized the study of such human-associated microbial diversity, and the continuously decreasing cost/throughput ratio of current sequencing platforms is further enhancing the availability and effec- tiveness of microbiome research. The IonTorrent PGM platform is among the latest available commercial high-throughput sequencing tools, but it is just starting to be used for 16S rRNA surveys with only episodic assessments of its performance. We present here the first IonTorrent profiling of the human saliva micro- biome collected from 12 healthy individuals. In this cohort, a subset of the volunteers was asked to assume a probiotic product, in order to investigate its impact on the composition and the structure of the saliva microbiome. Analysis of the generated dataset suggests the suitability of the IonTorrent platform for 16S rRNA surveys, even though some platform-specific choices are required to optimize the consistency of the obtained bacterial profiles. Interestingly, we found a marked and statistically significant increase of the overall bacterial diversity in the saliva of individuals who received the probiotic product compared to the control group, suggesting a short-term effect of probiotic product administration on oral microbiome composition.

Jason Fontana, Bachelor Thesis (Online Publication), 2012
Engineering E. coli to reduce sulfate aerobically

Statues and monuments all over the world are not enjoyed to the extent that they should be because they are covered in a disfiguring black crust, which consists mainly of CaSO4.
A practical solution would be if a cheap mechanism was available to continually remove the pollutant molecules that adhere to the surface of statues. To build such a system, we engineered an aerobic sulfur reducing pathway in E. coli to dissolve the disfiguring black crust.


I use ResearchGate as my academic hub.


You can check my resume also on LinkedIn. I'm happy to connect.


You can download my CV in pdf format if you like.
Full details about classes included.

Copyright Jason Fontana 2014. All rights reserved.