Fabrizio Salonia

PhD Student - XXXIV Cycle Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science - Tutor: Stefano Giovanni La Malfa
Office: CREA-OFA, Corso Savoia, 190, Acireale (CT)
Email: fabrizio.salonia@unict.it

  • 2018-2021: PhD course in Agricultural, Food and Environmental Science, University of Catania. Research project: “Cisgenesis and genome editing approaches about candidate genes that control qualitative traits in sweet orange fruits”. In the next few years, agriculture will have to deal with new challenges, like the increase of population, global warming and the constitution of new varieties with increased nutraceutical qualities. In the case of citrus, there is a huge interest in anthocyanin and lycopene-pigmented oranges, which are known to contain more antioxidants compared to common ones. In nature, the presence of citrus variety that containing both anthocyanin and lycopene is not reported. The aim of the research is to try to obtain new citrus genotypes with improved health-promoting properties through the coexistence of both pigments using cisgenesis or genome editing approaches. Knowledge on the role of candidate genes controlling anthocyanins and lycopene accumulation represents the preliminary and, at the meantime, crucial step allowing us to apply both advanced technologies. Genes characterized for being the most appropriate will be evaluated using bioinformatics investigations and subsequent quantitative PCR and High Resolution Melting analysis, to assess genes expression and allelic status, respectively. In sweet orange, the Ruby gene, upstream associated with the 3’LTR of TCS1 retrotrasposon, represents nowadays the only candidate fruit-specific gene that controls the anthocyanin production in blood oranges. We propose to use Ruby for performing a potential cisgenic construct and to transform citrus varieties known for naturally containing lycopene in the flesh. Another strategy takes into account the possibility to realize genome editing constructs to edit candidate genes involved in the carotenoid pathway to increase content of lycopene in blood orange varieties. A huge effort will consist in the optimization of regeneration protocols of citrus varieties that will be considered for both cisgenesis and genome editing experiments. Molecular analysis and phenotypic evaluations will be applied to confirm the efficiency of transformation.
  • Mar 2018 - Ott 2018: Scholarship, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics - Research Centre for Olive, Citrus and Tree Fruit (CREA-OFA), Corso Savoia, 190, Acireale (CT). Research activities: Application of markers linked to pulp pigmentation (Ruby gene), Alternaria brown spot resistance and nucellar polyembryony in several plants generated from different parent combinations to improve the efficiency of the CREA citrus breeding program.
  • Feb 2018 - Mar 2018: Postgraduate Internship, Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Catania, supervisor: Prof.ssa Vittoria Catara. Research activities: Carrying out the activity of “Ring test” organised by the University of Bari, DISSPA section.
  • Oct 2017 - Feb 2018: Postgraduate Internship, Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Catania, supervisor: Prof. Gaetano Di Stefano. Research activities: in vitro culture, embryo rescue and molecular characterisation using microsatellite markers to obtain new seedless varieties of table grapes.  
  • 2015-2017: Master’s Degree in Agricultural Biotechology, University of Catania; supervisors: Prof.ssa Vittoria Catara and Dr.ssa Paola Caruso. Degree thesis: “IPPC-FAO molecular diagnostic protocols to obtain a Ring Test for quarantine pests Xanthomonas citri pv. citri e pv. aurantifolii”.  Final mark: 110/110 e lode.
  • 2008-2015: Bechelor’s Degree in Agricultural Science and Technology, University of Catania; supervisor: Prof. Giuseppe Cucuzza. Degree thesis: “Nature reserve “Oasi di Vendicari”. Analysis of visitor numbers”. Final mark: 102/110.
  • 2008: High School diploma, Liceo Scientifico “E. Majorana”, Avola (SR).

Poster abstract:

  • Catara V., Licciardello G., Linguaglossa M., Salonia F., Rapisarda C., La Rosa R., Massimino Cocuzza G.E. 2017. “First Report of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ in Carrot in Italy”. 15th Congress of the Mediterranean Phytopathological Union, June 20–23, 2017, Córdoba, Spain. Phytopathologia Mediterranea, 56(2): 296.
  • Nicolosi E., Ferlito F., Domina F., Puglisi D., Salonia F., Zingale N., La Malfa S., Gentile A. 2018. “Il programma di miglioramento genetico per l’uva da tavola dell’Università di Catania”. XII Giornate Scientifiche SOI, Bologna 19-22 Giugno 2018. Book of abstract: 75.
  • Bennici S., Distefano G., Lana G., Salonia F., Domina F., La Malfa S., Gentile A. 2018. Effetto di diversi regimi termici sulla biologia riproduttiva del clementine. XII Giornate Scientifiche SOI, Bologna 19-22 Giugno 2018. Book of abstract: 16.
  • Salonia F., Catalano C., Russo R., Licciardello C., Russo G., Caruso M. 2018. “Application of Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) to improve the efficiency of the CREA Citrus breeding program”. LXII SIGA Annual Congress, Verona 25-28 Settembre 2018. Session 6, Plant Genetics and Genomics: 6.31.