25 University of Catania – UNICT

University of Catania, Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment – UNICT

Team in O+

Prof Gabriella Cirvilleri. Gabriella is a Full Professor of Plant Pathology at Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Di3A), University of Catania. The research activity is documented by more than 200 publications and participation in conferences, focused mainly on diagnosis of plant pathogenic bacteria and fungi; biological control of pre- and post-harvest diseases; selection and characterisation of antagonistic microorganisms (Pseudomonas spp.; Trichoderma spp.; killer yeasts); study of their mechanisms of action; development of new biological defence strategies on different systems “host / pathogen” in pre- and post-harvest. Special emphasis is devoted to emerging pathogens of horticultural crops, citrus, table grapes, and other Mediterranean, tropical or subtropical plants. President of the Degree Course, 2008-2012 and PhD coordinator, 2005-2011. National Delegate COST 830 (1997- 2001) and COST CA16107 (2017-2021). Research fellow and Visiting Professor (USA, Nicaragua, Cuba, Morocco). Responsible of many research projects founded by PON, MIUR, PRIN focused on biological control, antagonistic microorganisms, molecular ecology of Pseudomonas syringae, postharvest diseases, plant-pathogen interactions, molecular diagnosis. www.researchgate.net/profile/Gabriella_Cirvilleri

Prof Giancarlo Polizzi. Giancarlo is a Full Professor of Plant Pathology at Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Di3A), University of Catania. Responsible of research project funded by national agencies (MIUR, CNR, MIPAF, etc.) focused on the development on new disease control methods in plant pathology. The main research topics are: diagnosis; development of sustainable control measures (Integrated Pest Management, soil solarisation); monitoring of fungicide resistance. He has published over 240 scientific articles in Italian and international journals. Collaborates with the most prestigious companies (Bayer, BASF, Certis, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, Belchim, Bioworks, etc.).

Dr Alessandro Vitale.  Alessandro is a researcher of Plant Pathology at Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Di3A), University of Catania. From 2007 to 2014, he obtained two research fellowships (Post Doc Position) on “Control strategies and survival of soil-borne pathogens” and “Integrated management of soil-borne diseases and survival of soilborne agents into soil” His research activity focuses on diagnosis of phytopatogenic fungi and bacteria causing new diseases on horticultural and ornamental crops, soilborne pathogens, plant disease strategies (including biological and agronomic and physical means as well as soil solarisation and integrated control means). The scientific activity is documented by more than 100 publications in national and international journals and conference proceedings. www.researchgate.net/profile/Alessandro_Vitale3

Dr Dalia Aiello Dr Aiello has obtained a Post-doc fellowship on “Characterization of fungal pathogens of ornamental plants in soilless and sustainable control strategies in Mediterranean environment”. Currently, she has a Post-doc scholarship in the project “Evaluation of sustainable control strategies against Calonectria spp.” Her research activity focuses on diagnosis of fungal and bacterial diseases of citrus, watermelon, tomato, ornamental and tropical and subtropical crops and on the development of sustainable control strategies against plant pathogens with integrated use of chemical, biological and agronomic measures. The scientific activity is documented by more than 60 publications in national and international journals and conference proceedings.


About Università degli Studi di Catania’s (University of Catania – UNICT)

Università degli Studi di Catania’s (University of Catania – UNICT) department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Di3A) , has a mission to produce high-quality scientific research that is of high social and economic impact, and to organize courses and other educational activities with highly innovative training content and objectives, designed to meet the current needs of society and of the job market, with particular reference to the areas of agricultural and food production and of environmental protection in the Mediterranean Basin. The Department brings together professors and researchers from different fields of scientific areas belonging to “Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences” and “Life Sciences”, which carry out research activities in the field of agro management, food and non-food crops, vegetables biotechnology, agricultural chemistry, food technology, phytopathology and biological control. Teachers of the Di3A are mainly engaged in the Bachelor, Master and PhD of the Department. The Department has important educational structures, equipped and modern laboratories and rich libraries to support research and teaching activities. Researchers at Di3A attract funding from national and international public institutions as well as through contracts and agreements with private companies, which contribute to the large transfer activity of innovation and scientific capabilities of the department. To better achieve these goals the Di3A maintains scientific relations with several Italian and foreign universities, and numerous national and international research organisations adhere to qualified networks, and actively participates in the Community program “Erasmus”. University of Catania will participate to the project analysing the laboratory and field effects (including treatment “selectivity” versus citrus orchards) of sustainable and alternative control means against phytopatogenic fungi and bacteria under typical citrus growing conditions in the Mediterranean area (Sicily). This area is one of the most important areas of Citrus production in Italy and in Mediterranean area. Control of fungal and bacterial diseases still relies mainly on the use of chemical fungicides, including copper compounds, but the development of Cu accumulation phenomena into soil and the increasing interest for the environment and human health induced the search for alternative and safer control strategies. Accordingly, the use of sustainable strategies is a crucial point for citrus production in Sicily, where typical varieties are cultivated. Among them, pigmented (blood) orange ‘Tarocco’, blond orange Washington Navel and lemon Femminello Siracusano have recently been recognised by the European Community (EU) with labels ‘Protected Geographical Indications’ (PGI) and ‘Protected Designations of Origin’ (PDO). The high quality of these citrus fruit and their success in domestic and international markets is mainly due to the suitable soil and climate conditions of the Sicilian growing areas that contribute to the final result of distinctive sensorial characteristics and agreeable fragrance. Their valuable characteristics acquire even greater value if the productions are integrated or biological. Thus, the main objectives will be to detect on the effects of alternatives to copper and mineral oils, such as resistance inducers, biological control agents (BCAs), vegetable extract, fertilisers and other mineral compounds, alone and in combination, against key pathogenic fungi and bacteria of Citrus. Treatments with alternatives to copper and mineral oils will be recommended for inclusion in management programs for Sicilian citrus orchards since their use may be an effective method to improve the integrated pest management strategy. We are in close collaboration with citrus orchard and nursery growers as well as with plant extract manufacturers.