I am a senior scientist at CNR and responsible of the Biochemistry Lab. of IPSP division in Bari. My main research topic is the study of plant immune system mechanisms; in particular, I investigate the processes of resistance induction (SAR, ISR) by treatments of plants with hormones, or with symbiont mycorrhizal microorganisms, or antagonist fungi such as Trichoderma spp. in Solanaceae. Such treatments are intended to be used as a sustainable control strategy within IPM against plant parasitic nematodes and mining insects. This research implies the carrying out of biological assays and molecular tests on the effects of SAR (salicylic acid, and its functional analogs, BTH and INA) and ISR (jasmonic acid, ethylene) activators on plant parasite infestations in relation with dosages, plant age, application method, water stress, soil and environmental conditions. etc. This research is supported by different Projects (CISIA SOS-POM, CNR Project WATER, Dept. Project “Sustainable Agriculture”) funded by CNR and Italian Ministry of School, University and Research. Moreover, I deal with either gene identification or evaluation of factors involved in genetic resistance of Solanaceae against root-knot and cyst nematodes; I also study the mechanisms acting in the selection of the virulent populations developing on resistant plants.
I am one of the two scientific responsible and RUP within the IPSP of Selge Project, co-funded by Apulia Region, “Public Web of Research Labs” which wants to be a tool for the regional Agro-food SMEs in the field of selection, characterization and conservation of plant genomes, and of prevention of the diffusion of economically important and quarantine pests. Therefore, part of my activity is dedicated to the molecular identification, by electrophoresis isozyme patterns, of species and of the intraspecific variability of plant parasitic nematodes.
I published on these research topics 67 papers on International Journals (about 900 citations, H-index 13)
I am a reviewer of projects in industrial research, experimental development, and technology transfer within regional and national applications issued by Italian Ministry, Apulia Region, and Apulia ARTI. I have been included in the reviewers panel of Agro-food section within the Agreement between the Italian Ministry of Economical Development (Mise) and CNR for the evaluation of SME projects funded by the Sustainable Growth Fund.