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Dr. Dario Cantu
PhD, Plant Biology, University of California Davis
Plant biologist Dr. Dario 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. Dr. Cantu’s research integrates principles of systems biology and quantitative genetics and uses genomics and bioinformatics to dissect the molecular networks underlying complex traits in cultivated plants, including grape, tomato, and wheat. Research topics range from (i) plant resistance to pathogens, (ii) the evolution of pathogenicity in fungal plant pathogens, (iii) the relation between plant development and the association with microorganisms, and the molecular determinants of fruit development and ripening.