In order to depict the biological and ecological characteristics of one of the most charismatic species of the mesophotic forests, both along the continental shelf and over seamounts, numerous experimental settings were ideated, targeting:

i) Genetic connectivity of populations over geographic and bathymetric gradients with special focus on coastal-off-shore gradient (in collaboration with Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali, Università di Bologna).

ii) Isotopic diet, influence of the oceanographic factors over rocky elevations and role of a habitat-forming species in the bentho-pelagic coupling at mesophotic depths (in collaboration with Laboratory of Oceanography, University of Genova and Monaco Scientific Centre; samplings thanks to Centro Carabinieri Subacquei Genova, Il Grande Blu Diving, and Venceslao Zaina).

iii) Microbiome characterization with special focus on the first biodiversity assessment of the associated bacterial fauna for a mesophotic black coral, on the role of the associated species, and their relation with seasonal and environmental variables (in collaboration with Monaco Scientific Centre).

iv) Asexual reproduction with special focus on fragmentation and bailout, investigated in aquaria facilities aiming at evaluating the dispersal ability of the species (in collaboration with Acquario di Genova and Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls-sur-Mer; samplings thanks to Centro Carabinieri Subacquei Genova, and Il Grande Blu Diving).

v) Sexual reproduction with special reference to population sex ratio, gametogenic cycles, comparison over a large geographic and bathymetric scale of fertility and gametes’ size in deep Mediterranean black corals, larval production and behaviour (in collaboration with Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls-sur-Mer; samplings thanks to Centro Carabinieri Subacquei Genova). 

vi) Growth rates studied in a coastal population by means of direct measures and 3D-photogrammetry (samplings thanks to Centro Carabinieri Subacquei Genova).

vii) Chronobiology of the demersal fish fauna associated to an Antipathella subpinnata forest studied by means of a benthic lander (in collaboration with BlueResearch; samplings thanks to Centro Carabinieri Subacquei Genova)

viii) Longevity of Antipathella subpinnata and other deep black c.orals from the Mediterranean basin investigated by means of radiocarbon dating (in collaboration with Università di Bari and Centro di Datazione e Diagnostica - CEDAD – UniSalento).

ix) Associated fauna of sessile and vagile species and evaluation of the role of arborescent black corals as hotspots of biodiversity with description of a new species of polyclad strictly associated to Antipathella subpinnata.

x) Genome of Antipathella subpinnata representing the first analysis for black corals (in collaboration with Dr. Mercer Brugler, American Museum of Natural History, USA).