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: Meeting with students: Tuesday and Wednesday 11:00-13:00 or by taking an appointment (Team Code: zjo9wmh)

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); POFESR 2007-2013 Sicily Region SAMAGRUMI (Partner). Scopus: N.123 articles; N.1496 citations; h-index =23 (21/09/2020). Senior Editor: Disease (APS), Plants (MDPI), Journal of Plant Pathology (Springer), Journal of Fungi (MDPI).

Catania, 16/02/2021

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:



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, Environmental 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 - Ciclo 36).



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


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)
  • PRIMA-MED Topic 2.3.1 “RIA Extending shelf-life of perishable Mediterranean food products by sustainable technologies and logistics and by optimized pest and microbial control”. Project: “Smart and innovative packaging, post-harvest rot management and shipping of organic citrus fruit (BiOrangePack)” 2020-23.  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 (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.


  • 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)


- 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)


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.

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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
  • Understanding the interaction plant-pathogen-antagonist at molecular level.