My interests are focused on the molecular bases of plant-virus interactions. As a result of their co-evolution, plants developed a number of defense mechanisms against virus infection, while viruses deployed several strategies to overcome such defenses. Among these mechanisms, I’m particularly interested in transcriptional and posttranscriptional silencing which are based on the action of small non-coding RNAs. The silencing phenomenon has been exploited to develop tools, such as VIGS (virus induced gene silencing), for gene functional studies. I’m using VIGS to manipulate the expression of genes potentially involved in plant response to Geminivirus infection.
In addition, I’m carrying out an investigation on diseases caused by intracellular pathogens in poplar and other biomass crops.