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UC Davis hires Dr. Dario Cantu in the Department of Viticulture and Enology

Posted on September 19, 2013

Dr. Dario Cantu has joined the Viticulture and Enology Department at UC Davis as the newest faculty member. Dr. Dario Cantu will use his skills as a Genomicist and Systems Biologist to understand the mechanisms that control fruit ripening and determine disease resistance in wine grapes.

Dr. Cantu was born and raised in Milan, Italy, where he received his undergraduate training and his Masters Degree in Agricultural Sciences in 2004. He then joined the Plant Biology Graduate Group at UC Davis and obtained his Ph.D. in 2009. During his Ph.D. research, under the supervision of Drs. Ann Powell, John Labavitch, and Alan Bennett, Dr. Cantu’s research focused on elucidating the molecular basis of cell wall disassembly in ripening fruit and its relation to pathogen susceptibility. Dr. Cantu’s research provided novel insights into the developmental regulation of fruit pathogen susceptibility and it was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After graduating from UC Davis, Dr. Cantu conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and world leader in wheat genetics. With Dr. Dubcovsky, Dr. Cantu pioneered the use of novel high-throughput sequencing technologies to study complex traits in cultivated plant species. He made significant contributions to the field of plant genomics, including: the first epigenomic analysis of wheat transposable elements, the first assembly and annotation of the wheat stripe rust genome, a large scale transcriptome analysis of polyploid wheat, and a comparative study of the defense response interactomes in rice and wheat.

As a Systems Biologist in the V&E Department, Dr. Cantu will contribute his insight into the biological mechanisms that govern plant interactions with pathogens and fruit ripening and his experience in developing and implementing novel systems-level experimental approaches. Dr. Cantu’s research program will focus on the integration of quantitative data generated by high-throughput ‘omics’ approaches, such as genome sequencing, transcriptomics, and metabolomics, to enable intelligent manipulation of the grapevine genome and, ultimately, to improve berry quality and grapevine resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.

Since starting in October 2012, Dr. Cantu has authored ten scientific articles, received a grant from the American Vineyard Foundation, received a grant from the CDFA-Pierce’s Disease Board and helped organize the “5th Grape Research Coordination Network” conference, an international meeting on grape genomics. Beginning this Fall (2013), he will be the primary instructor for VEN2 (Introduction to Viticulture) and VEN118 (Grape Pests and Diseases).

Dr. Cantu’s publications in 2013 include:

Tomato transcriptome and mutant analyses suggest a role for plant stress hormones in the interaction between fruit and Botrytis cinerea. Barbara Blanco-Ulate, Estefania Vincenti, Ann L. T. Powell and Dario Cantu. Front Plant Sci. 2013; 4: 142.

Blanco-Ulate B, Rolshausen P, Cantu D (2013a) Draft genome sequence of Neofusicoccum parvum (isolate UCR-NP2), a fungal vascular pathogen associated with grapevine cankers. Genome announcements 1: e00339-00313.

Blanco-Ulate B, Rolshausen P, Cantu D (2013b) Draft genome sequence of the ascomycete Phaeoacremonium aleophilum strain UCR-PA7, one of the causal agents of the esca disease complex in grapevines. Genome announcements 1: e00390-00313.

Blanco-Ulate B, Rolshausen PE, Cantu D (2013c) Draft genome sequence of the grapevine dieback fungus Eutypa lata UCR-EL1. Genome announcements 1: e00228-13.

Blanco-Ulate B, Allen G, Powell ALT, Cantu D. 2013. Draft genome sequence of Botrytis cinerea BcDW1, inoculum for noble rot of grape berries. Genome Announc. 1(3):e00252-13.

Systems biology of vintage and terroir: adding some flavor to the wine grape transcriptome. Hildegarde Heymann and Dario Cantu. Flavour 2013, 2:20.

In search of solutions to grapevine trunk diseases through “crowd-sourced” science. Karen L. Block, Philippe E. Rolshausen, and Dario Cantu. Front Plant Sci. 2013, in press.

Region: North America

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