Cantu Lab at UC Davis

Department of Viticulture & Enology

Main menu: Home | People | Projects | Data | Publications |

sample header image

Current Cantu Lab members

Last update: April 10 2020 Cantu Lab Spring 2020


Dario Cantù
Professor of Systems Biology and Louis P. Martini Endowed Chair in Viticulture
Academic Director, UC Davis Chile Life Sciences Innovation Center
Chair, Viticulture and Enology Graduate Group
Chancellor's Fellow 2018-2023

2009 PhD Plant Biology, UC Davis
2004 BS-MSc Agricultural Sciences, University of Milan (Italy)

Dario is Professor of Systems Biology and Louis P. Martini endowed chair in viticulture in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California Davis. He was born and raised in Milan, Italy, where he obtained both his BSc and MSc in Agricultural Sciences. Dario moved to Davis, California, in 2005 to pursue a PhD in Plant Biology at University of California, working on the interaction between Botrytis and ripening fruit. After graduating in 2009 Dario joined the laboratory of Jorge Dubcovsky, where he pioneered the use of next generation sequencing technologies to study the interaction between plants and their associated microorganisms. Since 2012 Dario has been a Faculty member in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, where he leads a research group that studies plant and microbial activities in a variety of contexts, from disease resistance, wood decomposition, to fruit ripening, and flavor development. Dario's Google Scholar Page and ImpactStory


Jerry Lin
PhD Candidate (Horticulture and Agronomy)
Jerry is a PhD student in Horticulture and Agronomy. He received his bachelor’s degrees in Genetics & Plant Biology and Molecular Toxicology at UC Berkeley. In the Cantu lab, he is mapping the genetics bases of viticulture and aroma traits in progenies obtained by crossing important wine grape cultivars. Jerry's Google Scholar Page


Daniela Quiroz
PhD Student (Integrative Genetics and Genomics)
Daniela received a MSc in Biotechnology from the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA, Chile) in 2015 for her research on long distance gene silencing by artificial miRNAs. Since then she has worked as a researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Humberto Prieto in INIA. Her work involved the development of artificial small RNAs for Vitis vinifera cultivar genetic improvement. In the Cantu lab she is studying the role epigenetic modifications in the grape genome in fungal and viral diseases.


Maria de los Angeles (Micco) Miccono
PhD Student (Horticulture and Agronomy)
Micco is a PhD student in Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Group. She received her bachelor’s degrees in Biochemistry at Universidad de Santiago de Chile. She spent 10 years working on grapevine genetic transformation at the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA, Chile) mainly developing plant transformation vectors to generate genotypes that are resistant to fungal and viral diseases. She has also conducted research on CRISPR/Cas9 system implementation in grapevines, stone fruit and apples. In the Cantu Lab, she is investigating the molecular mechanisms that underlie the chemical and developmental changes that berries undergo during the interaction with Botrytis cinerea.

Jadran García Navarrete
PhD Student (Horticulture and Agronomy)
Jadran received his B.S. in Biotechnology Engineering from the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica in 2017. As an undergraduate student, he worked in his University at the Biotechnology Research Center (CIB) with projects related to synthetic biology. He also worked at the Cantu Lab in 2016-2017 with projects related to the detection of fungal communities from grapevine cuttings of a commercial nurseries using high-throughput sequencing techniques. These projects served as his graduation work. After his degree, Jadran worked for a commercial laboratory where he conducted molecular biology diagnostics on different types of samples. As a PhD student in the Cantu Lab, Jadran will continue his work on diagnostics and ecology of grapevine trunk pathogens.

Mirella Zaccheo
PhD Student (Horticulture and Agronomy)
Mirella earned a MSc in Biotechnology at the University of Bari (Italy) in 2019. Before completing her Master’s, she worked as a visiting researcher at the KARE Center (Parlier, CA – USA) under Dr. Themis Michailides’ supervision, where she aimed at understanding the relationship between woody fungal pathogenic species and the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa in almond plants. This project served as her MSc dissertation work. As a PhD student in the Cantu Lab, she will continue working on Xylella fastidiosa and, specifically, on the characterization of the Pierce’s Disease resistance genes in grapevine.

Mireia Domènech
MSc Student (Viticulture & Enology)
Mireia obtained her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering at the Barcelona School of Agricultural Engineering in 2020. During her undergraduate studies, she also worked as a viticultural technician for the Associació de Defensa Vegetal Sant Martí Penedès Superior in Integrated Pest Management and grapevine quality classification. She did her bachelor’s internship at Codorníu studying factors affecting the severity of downy mildew damage in Penedès. For her bachelor´s thesis, Mireia worked in the Cantu Lab on grapevine leaf morphometrics and phenotyping. As a MS student, Mireia continues to work on phenotyping grapevine genetic mapping populations.

Mélanie Massonnet
Mélanie received a MSc in Enology and Viticulture from the University of Bordeaux, France, in 2011. In Pr. Serge Delrot’s lab, her master thesis focused on the functional characterization of grape O-methyltransferases involved in the biosynthesis of methoxypyrazines. Then, Mélanie joined Pr. Mario Pezzotti’s lab where she conducted the comparative transcriptomic analysis of 10 grapevine varieties during berry development. She received her PhD in Applied biotechnologies from the University of Verona, Italy, in 2015. Since her arrival in 2016 in the Cantu lab, Mélanie has been studying the transcriptional mechanisms associated with grape response and microbial virulence during grape-pathogen interactions, such as grapevine trunk diseases, Pierce’s disease and powdery mildew. She has also been investigating the genetic basis of flower sex determination in wild and cultivated grapes, particularly the molecular events involved in the advent of dioecy in the Vitis genus and the reversion to hermaphroditism in domesticated grapevine. At present, Mélanie is exploring the genomics and transcriptomics of powdery mildew resistance as part of the Vitisgen2 Project. Mélanie's Google Scholar Page

Andrea Minio
Andrea earned a master degree in Bioengineering at Università degli Studi di Padova (Italy) under the supervision of prof. Di Camillo studying the topological properties of gene co-regulatory networks reconstructed by reverse egineering expression profiles. In Prof. Massimo Delledonne's lab he received his Ph.D in Applied Biotechnologies at Università di Verona (Italy) focusing on de novo reconstruction and annotation of genomes and transcriptomes. As bioinformatician in the Cantu Lab, Andrea applies computational methods to sequencing data with the purpose of uncover complex genomic characteristics and lifestyle of grapevine cultivar, fungal phytopathogens and other non model species. Andrea's Google Scholar Page


Amanda Vondras
Amanda received a BS in Biology from Cornell University in 2011 and PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Oregon State University in 2017. As an undergraduate student, she pursued the functional characterization of an enzyme suspected to be involved in norisoprenoid biosynthesis. Her doctoral work included studying uneven berry ripening and the effects of grape leafroll-associated virus 3 on ripening. As a postdoc in the Cantu Lab, she will delve more deeply into this plant-pathogen relationship by exploring how combinations of viral infections influence the severity of symptoms during ripening and alter plant defense responses. Amanda's Google Scholar Page


Shahin S. Ali
Shahin received his B.Sc. in Agriculture and M.Sc. in Agricultural Biotechnology from Assam Agricultural University in India and Ph.D. in Biology and Environmental Science from University College Dublin, Ireland. Shahin’s Ph.D. research was on exploiting the molecular interaction between the fungus and plant cell wall during bio-ethanol production. During his short period as a postdoc in Ireland, Shahin studied Fusarium head blight and brassinosteroid mediated plant defense response of wheat and barley. In 2013 he moved to US and join the USDA/ARS Sustainable Perennial Crops Lab in Beltsville, Maryland and started working on the molecular mechanism of disease development and plant defense against various pathogens of cacao. He joined the Cantu lab in early 2018 as part of the ‘Microbial Pathogenomics of Major Cacao Disease’ project and is stationed at ARS Beltsville where he works with Dr. Bryan Bailey. Shahin's Google Scholar Page


Noé Cochetel
Noé received a B.Sc. in Plant experimentation from the University of Havre, France, in 2011 and a M.Sc. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Bordeaux, France, in 2013. He joined the lab of Pr. Serge Delrot for his doctoral work. He studied, under the supervision of Virginie Lauvergeat, the influence of the rootstock on the nitrogen signaling and the development of the scion in grapevine. He received his Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of Bordeaux, France, in 2016. In 2017, he joined the lab of Pr. Grant Cramer for his first postdoc where he studied the impact of water deficit on grapevine. For his second and current postdoc, he joined Dario Cantu’s lab and works on comparative genomics of wild north american vitis species. Noé's Google Scholar Page

Rosa Figueroa-Balderas
Senior Research Scientist
Rosa Figueroa-Balderas completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in Biochemical Sciences at the Institute of Biotechnology in the National University of Mexico (IBT-UNAM). In 2007, she was awarded a UCMexus-Conacyt postdoctoral fellowship where she developed marker-free transformation technologies to genetically improve California relevant crops at PIPRA/UC Davis. Throughout her postdoctoral training at UC Davis, Rosa designed and built complex plant transformation vectors with maximum freedom-to-operate with the aim of generating marker-free plants. She has collaborated with several Ag-companies designing plant transformation vectors and developing molecular characterization of thousands of independent transformation events with pre-commercial purposes. Rosa has been working in Cantu’s lab since December, 2014 primarily on the development, optimization and implementation of molecular biology protocols for grapevine genomic studies related to grape genetic resistance to Pierce’s disease, powdery mildew and Neofusicoccum parvum, as well as in grape whole genome projects. Rosa's Google Scholar Page

Past lab members

Lucero (Lucy) Espinoza
Research intern 2018-2019 (Forensic Science major)
Dingren (Diana) Liang
Research intern 2018-2019 (Global Disease Biology major)
Abraham Morales-Cruz
Phd Student & Postdoc 2013-2019. Current position: Postdoc in the Gaut Lab (UC Irvine)
Eric Tran
Junior Specialist 2017-2018
Zirou (Vivienne) Ye
Junior Specialist 2013-2017
Barbara Blanco-Ulate
Postdoc 2013-2016. Current position: Assistant Professor (Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis)
Gabrielle (Ella) Allenbeck
Research Assistant 2013-2017
Daniele Buonassisi
Visiting Phd Student 2016 (University of Udine)
Katherine Amrine
Postdoc 2013-2016. Current position: Product Director, Data Scientist at Insight Data Science
Laura Jones
MSc Student 2013-2014 (Viticulture and Enology Graduate Group, UC Davis)
Alexandre Carriot
Visiting MSc Student 2014 (University of Bordeaux)
Chiara Broccanello
Visiting PhD student 2014 (University of Padova)
Aurélie Sastre
Visiting MSc student (University of Bordeaux)
Eduardo Gutiérrez-Rodríguez
Postdoc 2012-2013. Current position: Assistant Professor (North Carolina State University)