My current interests are mainly related to the study of plant response to water scarcity and biotic stress, such as fungal, viral and insects. The plant models are citrus fruits, pomegranates, tomatoes and cabbage. In particular, I study the quantitative and qualitative changes of proteins and secondary metabolites produced by plants exposed to the stress, using a proteomic approach, (2-DE, LC-MS /MS) and mass spectrometry and bioinformatics and metabolomics (GC on the solid phase), respectively.
Citrus fruits are often grown on soils subjected to salinity, water scarcity and the exposure to abiotic stress increases the plant sensitivity to attack by insects and fungi. It was observed that double diploid citrus plants are more tolerant to the changes in environmental parameters in comparison to the respective diploid. In collaboration with a research team of CIRAD and INRA (France) and EMBRAPA and the State University of Santa Cruz (Brazil), we are studying the response to water stress and multiple stress (water and biotic) in diploid and double diploid plants of Citrus sp , with the aim at identifying candidate genes of tolerance. The project is funded by CAPES (Brazil).
As part of a bilateral project Italy-Azerbaijan, MOXIVOL, co-funded by the National Research Council (CNR) and the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences (ANAS), I am working on the response of the antioxidant system of pomegranate plants exposed to drought stress. The study is performed evaluating the changes in the activities of the major antioxidant enzymes (SOD, CAT, APX, GR), the enzyme glyoxalase and the levels of the secondary metabolites related to such as enzymes (ascorbic acid, hydrogen peroxide, methyl glyoxal, BVOC) .
In the framework of the project VOLATOSCA, funded by ‘Regione Toscana’ I am studying the beneficial effect of mycorrhization on the response mechanisms to abiotic and biotic stress in cabbage plants.