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V&E Welcomes new Assistant Professor, Dr. Dario Cantu

Plant biologist Dr. Dario Cantu will join the V&E Department on October 1 as our newest faculty member. Dr. Cantu was born and raised in Milan, Italy, where he received his undergraduate training and his Master degree in Agricultural Sciences in Fall 2004. He then joined the Plant Biology Graduate Group at UC Davis and obtained his PhD in Fall 2009. 

During his PhD research under the supervision of Drs. Ann Powell and John Labavitch, Dr. Cantu investigated the molecular determinants of ripe fruit susceptibility to the fungal pathogen, Botrytis cinerea. Since graduating from UCD, Dr. Cantu conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky where he applied novel sequencing and large dataset technologies to make significant contributions to the field of plant genomics, including the first epigenome 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 Systems Biologist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, Dr. Cantu will contribute his insight into underlying biological mechanisms that govern fruit ripening and disease resistance and his experience in developing and implementing novel systems-level approaches. Dr. Cantu’s research program will focus on the integration of quantitative data generated by high-throughput ‘omics’ approaches, such as genomics, 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.