Santa Olga Cacciola

Full Professor of Plant pathology [AGR/12]

Full professor of Plant Pathology, University of Catania. Qualified as full professor already in 2012. PhD in Plant Pathology, Univ. Bari. Post-doc: Univ. Bern (CH) - Roche Foundation grant; Johns Hopkins Univ (USA) - NIH grant; fellowship OECD/OECE at SCRI, UK. She has 30 years of experience in participating in national and international projects and is recognized internationally as expert of citrus diseases and molecular diagnostics. Preparation of EPPO protocols. Main projects: PRIN-MIUR 2006; 2008-2012; U.S.Fulbright Scholars-A.A.2017-18 (host partner) workshop: Rapid Diagnostic Tools for Phytophthora (2018); PRIMA 2019 S-II- BiOrangePack (Coordinator); PROMETEO - Programma ENI di Cooperazione Transfrontaliera (CT) “Italia-Tunisia” 2014-2020 (Coordinator); POFESR 2007-2013 Sicily Region SAMAGRUMI (Partner). Scopus: N. 170 articoli; N. 3448 citazioni; h-index = 33 (17/03/2024). Senior Editor: Disease (APS), Plants (MDPI), Journal of Plant Pathology (Springer), Journal of Fungi (MDPI).



Curriculum vitae Santa Olga Cacciola

Family name, First name: Cacciola Santa Olga

Nationality: Italian

Current address: Dipartimento di Agricoltura Alimentazione e Ambiente (Di3A), University of Catania, V. S. Sofia, 100 Italia, 95123 Catania; tel.; +39 095 7147371/3289393860

Research profile. ORCID:; Scopus Author ID: 6603225299; Mendeley:; ReserchGate: ReserchGate: Research Interest Score 3,107; Citations: 4,235; h-index: 37;; Google Scholar: Citations: 5832; Indice H: 42; i10-index: 119

Scopus: N. 170 articoli; N. 3448 citazioni; h-index = 33 (17/03/2024).


Currently (from 1st March 2023), full Professor in Plant Pathology, University of Catania. 

She passed Abilitazione Nazionale – ASN: 2012 and 2013 as Full professor.

2008: associate professor in Plant Pathology, University of Catania.

2000: OECD/OECE fellowship on “Molecular techniques for the identification of Phytophthora”), The James Hutton Institute, Scotland (UK) with D.E.L. Cooke.

1998-2008: associate professor in Plant Pathology, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Palermo.

1990: PhD in Plant Pathology and researcher at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Catania.

1984-1985 (18 months): NIH (National Institute of Health) fellow at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA), studying the adhesion factor in cell-cell interactions. 

1982-1983: “Roche Foundation” fellowship carried out a research project on red cell transport at the Institut fur Biochemie (University of Bern, Switzerland).

1980: degree in Biological Science at the University of Catania (110 cum laude)



- Plant Pathology, Environmental Plant Pathology, Applied Plant Pathology, Forest Pathology, Plant morphology and physiology, Post-harvest Plant Pathology for undergraduate and graduate students.  
- Supervisor of graduate and Ph.D. students.

- Member of “Committee board” of Research Doctorates: “Gestione fitosanitaria ecocompatibile in ambienti agro-forestali e urbani”, University of Palermo and “Biotechnology”, University of Catania (2008-2014); “Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science”, University of Catania (International Course, 2013-2015); and "Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari, Forestali e Ambientali", University of Palermo (2016/2020); “Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science”, University of Catania (International Course, A.A. 2020/2021 and 2021/2022); “Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science”, University of Catania (International Course, A.A. 2020-2024); supporter of the Inter-Athenaeum PEGASO project in “Sistemi Agricolo-Forestali Avanzati e Sostenibili” of the University of Florence (Presence in the doctoral college with the role of external academic expert).


The general experience is in Plant Pathology, mostly with oomycetes and horticultural crops, fruit trees and forest tree species, fungi and diagnosis. Main research lines are: 1. Phytophthora and fungal diseases of citrus, ornamentals and Mediterranean forest trees; 2. Phylogeny and molecular diagnosis of Phytophthora and fungal pathogens; 3. Metagenomic of plant pathogens; 4. Colletotrichum anthracnose of olive and other crops; 5. Genetic variability of Phytophthora populations with different tools and strategies; 6. Bioremediation strategies using filamentous beneficial fungi; 7. Differential expression of genes of these fungi in presence of heavy metals; 8. Biological control and land management to control plant diseases; 9. Understanding the interaction plant-pathogen-antagonist at molecular level.

Invited speaker at national and international meetings of which the most recent are:

- Joint Session SIPaV-APS Ancona, 5-7 September, 2018 about “Emerging and re-emerging plant pathogens”;

- Satellite Meeting of the International Congress of Plant Pathology – 28 July 2018: 6th International Oomycetes Workshop: Phytophthora, Pythium, Downy Mildews and related genera.

- 10th Meeting of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) - Working Party S07.02.09. Phytophthora in Forests and Natural Ecosystems. 19-25 giugno 2022 University of California Berkeley, California, USA;

- 13th Arab Congress of Plant Protection (ACPP 2022) 16 – 21 October 2022, Hammamet, Tunisia nella “Keynote Address and Symposia Program: Advances in Molecular Plant Protection and its Applications in Pest Management”.

- Final Conference of the FEDKITO project “Towards circular economy in the agri-food sector: strategies and challenges” September 12th, 2023, Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (DAFE), Pisa.

- PRIMA collaborate: AN EVENT UNITING MED RESEARCHERS IN MALTA FOR INNOVATION, Malta 8th - 9th of February 2024 (Chaplain’s Hall, Esplora, Kalkara, MALTA).



Scientific leader

  • Project funded by CNR on the “Genetics of fungi” (Research Unit)
  • MIUR - PRIN: 1999-2000 and 2001-2002 (Research Unit), 2008-2010 (National leader)
  • DIGESFAM project (“progetto a sportello”), funded by MiPAF (2005-2007)
  • SAMAGRUMI  2007-2013;  funded by “Regione Siciliana” with EC funds Operative Program (Programma Operativo) - FESR 2007-2013
  • Bilateral Italy-UK (2002-2004; “Effect of climate change on geographical distribution of Phytophthora and risk of subsequent damage to important Mediterranean ecosystems” Partner: Dr D.E.L. Cooke of SCRI, Scotland)
  • Bilateral Italy-Spain (2007-2009; “Absorption of heavy metal ions by bio-resins of fungal origin in bioremediation of wastewaters and polluted soils”. Partner: Dr. Irene Garcia Fernandez, “Instituto de Bioquímica Vegetal y Fotosíntesis”, University of Sevilla, Spain)
  • Trilateral Italy-Sweden-Vietnam, Initiation Grant STINT (2011-2013;"Tree Diseases caused by species of Phytophthora that threaten forests and orchards on different continents".
  • Italy-Iran (2018-2019; Programma di mobilità “PIETRO DELLA VALLE” "Pomegranate and pistache diseases and selection of ecotypes resistant to fungal diseases in Iran". Partner: Prof.  Mostowfizadeh-Ghalamfarsa "Department of Plant Protection, University of Shiraz).
  •  “FITOPALMINTRO” Project, funded by “Regione Siciliana” (2007-2009); component.
  • Evaluation of research of the University of Catania (2005-2009 Top scientist Area 07 - Scienze Agrarie e Veterinarie). Special awards: additional funds by the University of Catania (euro 10.000).
  • VQR (“Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca”: National Agency of the Evaluation of University and Research) Evaluation period: 2004-2010 and 2011-2014. Score of the evaluated research products:  1 (Excellent).
  • U.S. FULBRIGHT Lecturers and Research Scholars to Italy - A.Y. 2017-18, AWARDING OF THE FULBRIGHT GRANT (Hosting Partner)
  • BiOrangePack, 2021-2023 PRIMA 2019 S-2, Smart and innovative packaging, post-harvest rot management and shipping of organic citrus fruit. PRIMA Section 2 - 2019 - Role: Coordinator of the project.
  • PROMETEO, 2021-2023, Italie-Tunisie Strategique project, Role: Coordinator of the project.
  • WEF-CAP, 2021-2023, ENI CBC MED, Role: Partner.
  • Project Erasmus +- International credit mobility KA107, 2019-2021, Role: referent for UNICT.
  • BioLemonCare, ‘Progetto PSR sottomisura 16.1’ - Fase 2 del PSR Sicilia, Role: University Partner.
  • 2020 to date. Positive evaluation regarding the participation of local committees, in compliance with art. 6, paragraphs 7 and 8, of Law 240/2010", issued by D.R. 276 of 30.1.2020.
  • 2023-2025. Scientific Task Leader in the ERASMUS-EDU-2023-EMJM-DESIGN project "Mediterranean Forest Health in a Global Climate Change Scenario" (FORCLIMED)
  • 2023 – 2027. Scientific Task Manager (member of the Management Committee) of activities relevant to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment of the University of Catania in the COST project "Sustainable Network for agrofood loss and waste prevention, management, quantification and valorisation (FoodWaStop) - CA22134" (General Manager: Prof. G. Romanazzi, Università Politecnica delle Marche).
  • EUPHRESCO project; Topic: Objective 2017-R-1.; 2017-R-1.2; 2017-R-2.1 “Phytophthora in public gardens: understanding pathways and mitigating risk (Phyto-gard)” (2023-2025, partner).


  • 2009-2012. Member of Management Committee MC) - COST-EU (International European Cooperation in Science and Technology) COST FPS Action FP0801: "Established and Emerging Phytophthora: Increasing Threats to Woodland and Forest Ecosystems in Europe".
  • 2014- 2019.  Member of MC - FPS COST Action FP1406: “Pine pitch canker - strategies for management of Gibberella circinata in greenhouses and forests (PINESTRENGTH)”.
  • Member of the Scientific Committee of the10th Meeting of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) Working Party S07.02.09 ‘Phytophthora in Forests and Natural Ecosystems’ Berkeley USA, 19th-25 th, June 2022.
  • 2023 – 2027. Member of MC - COST Action CA22134: "Sustainable Network for agrofood loss and waste prevention, management, quantification and valorisation (FoodWaStop)".
  • EUPHRESCO project; Topic:  obiettivo 2017-R-1.; 2017-R-1.2; 2017-R-2.1“Phytophthora in public gardens: understanding pathways and mitigating risk (Phyto-gard)” (2023-2025, partner).



  • Editor of the treatise “Olive diseases and disorders” published by Transworld Research Network Trivandrum, Kerala India ISBN 978 – 81-7895-539–1 (2011).
  • Senior Editor of Plant Disease (APS), Plants (MDPI), Journal of Plant Pathology (Springer) and Journal of Fungi (MDPI), and associate editor of  Frontiers in Agriculture and Pest Technology, Functional Plant Science and Biotechnology.
  • Referee for Journal of Plant Pathology, Frontiers in Plant Science, Phytopathology, Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology, Plant Disease, Plant Pathology, PLOS ONE, Biocontrol Science & Technology, Phytopathologia Mediterranea, Forest Pathology, Forests, Forest Science, Natural Product Research, European Journal of Plant Pathology, European Journal of Plant Science, Biotechnology, Frontiers in Plant Science, Scientific Reports, Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal, Heliyon Journal, Australasian Plant Pathology Journal, Crop Protection, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, New Phytologist , Phytobiomes, Biological Control.



University of Berkeley, USA (Prof. M. Garbelotto); The James Hutton Institute (formerly Scottish Research Crop Institute), Scottland (Dr D.E.L. Cooke); University of Cork, Ireland (Prof. D. Sheehan); University of Valencia, Spain (Dr Ana Perez); University of Sevilla, Spain (Dr. I. Garcia Fernandez); Forestry Commission Research Agency, UK (Prof. C. Brasier); USDA, USA (Dr. F.N. Martin, Dr. G. Abad), The Volcani Center Israel (Dr. D. Ezra), Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical – IICT, Portugal (P. Talhinhas); Phytophthora Research Centre, Mendel University, 613 00 Brno, Czech Republic (Dr. T. Jung); North Carolina State University – North Carolina, USA  (Prof. J. B. Ristaino); Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenierís Agrarias - Universidad de Valladolid – Palencia, Spain (Dr. J.J. Diez Caseiro); Department of Postharvest Science - ARO, The Volcani Center (Prof. S. Droby); Department of Plant Pathology and Weed Research, ARO, Volcani Center, Rishon LeZion, Israel (Prof. D. Ezra); EUPHRESCO (dr Baldissera Giovani); University of Applied Sciences, Isparta, Turkey (Prof. Hatice Tugba Dogmus);  University of Aberdeen,  Aberdeen, Scotland, UK (Prof. Steve Woodward).



- Member of the American Phytopathological Society.

- Member of the Italian Society of Plant Pathology (SIPaV).

- Member of the Italian Mycological Union. 

- Member of the Associazione italiana per la protezione delle piante (AIPP)

- Member of BSPP (British Society of Plant Pathology)

- 2016-2019. Member of the Council of the Italian Society of Plant Pathology (SIPaV). 


Component of

  • “Permanent Committee for Monitoring of the Teaching Activity of the undergraduate Courses of the Agricultural Faculty of the University of Palermo 2007-2008.
  • Departmental Committee advising the Director on the decision related to the Agricultural Faculty’, University of Palermo 2007-2008.
  • Departmental Committee advising the Director on the decision related to Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente –2014-2018.
  • Departmental Committee "Gruppo di Gestione di Assicurazione Qualità della Ricerca (GGAQR)" of the University of Catania for SSD AGR12 (Plant pathology) to evaluate the Quality of the Research-2013.
  • Committee for the “Selezione del Direttore del Centro di ricerca per la Patologia vegetale di Roma del Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura” Rome, CREA - 2012.
  • Committee for the “Selezione di assegnisti e borsisti del CREA-OFA” Rende (CS) - 2019-2020.
  • Member of the Committee "Gruppo di Gestione di Assicurazione Qualità (GGAQ)" of the course LM75 - 2019-2020; 2021-2024.
  • List of expert of CREA (Consiglio per la Ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'Economia Agraria) according with the Article 4, paragraph 1, letter c) of Regulation of organization and operation (“Regolamento di organizzazione e funzionamento”).
  • Member of the Di3A Permanent Laboratory for Sustainability (“Laboratorio Permanente per la Sostenibilità del Di3A”).
  • Delegate at the Catania High School for Di3A, 2023-2027.
  • President  of the Researcher Level III competition committee appointed by the CREA - Centro di ricerca per l’Olivicoltura, la Frutticoltura e l’Agrumicoltura, Rende (CS). 12.01.2024



N.B. the number of publications can affect the loading time of the information

Academic Year 2021/2022

Academic Year 2019/2020

Academic Year 2018/2019

Academic Year 2017/2018

Academic Year 2016/2017

Academic Year 2015/2016
  • Study of genetic variability of fungal pathogen populations by molecular methods.
  • Study of the physiological alterations in plants infected with citrus mal secco.
  • Development of molecular diagnostic methods for identification of species of Phytophthora and other fungal pathogens causal agents of diseases of crop, ornamental and forestry plants.
  • Application of fungi in strategies of "bioremediation" for removing heavy metals from polluted sites
  • Understanding the interaction plant-pathogen-antagonist at molecular level.