My scientific activity, is mainly devoted to the study of i) the pre-infectional and induced defence mechanisms in conifers subjected to biotic (cortical fungal pathogens) aimed at the evaluation of low-impact molecules to be used as ‘biofungicides’; ii) the genetic improvement of Cupressus sempervirens by population studies aimed at the selection (and patent) of genotypes based on desired characters such as the resistance to biotic (study of anatomical basis, biochemical and genetic resistance to main pathogens) and abiotic (resistance to drought and frost), the habits, the growth and the reduced pollen production; iii) the evaluation of the virulence variability of fungal pathogens by the characterization of populations with biological, morphometric and molecular assays, (genotyping of isolates and study of the genetic variability of populations); as well as iv) the role of BVOCs in relations with biotic factors (role in plant defence against pathogens and predators) and abiotic (temperature, radiation, humidity, atmospheric pollutants) by GC-MS and PTR-MS techniques.
Currently my research are addressed to
a) the study of phenotypic plasticity in invasive fungal populations with particular reference to pathosystem Cupressus sempervirens – Seiridium cardinale;
b) the induction in content and emission of terpene compounds and accumulation of phenolic compounds as response to canker agents infection in conifers (pathogen-host-environment interaction);
c) mechanisms of biotransformation of terpenes produced by plants for their defence by pathogenic fungi;
d) the study of the possible role of Mediterranean species in the mitigation of the forest fires risk (by tests of combustibility) of Mediterranean forest tree species in relation to the water and terpene content.
I have benefited from scholarships for several stays in foreign research institutes (UC Berkeley USA, INIA-CIFOR Madrid, CREAF Barcelona, INRA Antibes, etc.), where I studied ecophysiological aspects related to the role of BVOCs emissions in response to abiotic stress factors, and concerning forest pathology, with reference to the systemic induced resistance as a result of infection with cortical pathogens and the genetic variability of the pathogenic microorganisms.