Santa Olga Cacciola

Associate Professor of Plant pathology [AGR/12]
Office: Via S. Sofia, 100 - Piano II - Stanza 303 - Area Difesa
Phone: 095 7147371
Fax: 095 7147277
Office Hours: To contact the teacher please send an email to ask for a date. Team Code: gwleirb | Tuesday from 11:00 to 13:00

Catania, 14/05/2020


Family name, First name: Cacciola Santa Olga

Nationality: Italian

Date of birth: 13.0.1958
Current address: Dipartimento di Agricoltura Alimentazione e Ambiente (Di3A), University of Catania, V. S. Sofia, 100 Italia, 95123 Catania; tel.; +39 095 7147371/3289393860

ORCID: 0000-0001-7926-3601; Scopus Author ID: 6603225299



Currently, associate 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, 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).



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


Invited speaker at national and international meetings



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, 2020-2023, Smart and innovative packaging, post-harvest rot management and shipping of organic citrus fruit. PRIMA Section 2 - 2019 - Role: Coordinator of the project




  • 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)”.


  • 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, and associate editor of 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, Natural Product Research, European Journal of Plant Pathology, European Journal of Plant Science, Biotechnology, Frontiers in Plant Science.



  • 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)


- Member of the American Phytopathological Society.

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

- Member of the Italian Mycological Union. 



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

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  • 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