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Giovanni Cagnano: From pests to a source of resistance: Epichloë endophytes in grasses

PhD defence, Thursday 12 December 2019. Giovanni Cagnano.

2019.12.12 | Lisbeth Heilesen

Giovanni Cagnano

Tall fescue endophyte (Epichloë coenophiala) mycelia colonizing the intercellular spaces of the host tiller. The endophyte mycelium is stained with alanine blue. Photo: Carolyn Young.

During his studies, Giovanni's main focus was on meadow fescue (Schedonorus pratensis) plants infected with Epichloë uncinata. This endophyte grows asymptomatically in the host and is vertically seed-transmitted therefore its spread depends on the plant reproduction success. The relation between the two organisms is generally regarded as overall mutualistic: the host provides the endophyte with protection and nutrients while the fungus enhances host resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses and synthesizes bioactive loline alkaloids.

Giovanni collected a high number of infected populations and described the genetic diversity of the endophyte and the host, studied the differences in lolines production related to endophyte sub-populations and tested the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to detect and measure in planta levels of loline alkaloids.

The PhD degree was completed at DLF Seeds A/S.

This résumé was prepared by the PhD student.

Time: Thursday 12 December 2019 at 11.00
Place: Building 7613, room C101, Auditorium, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, Flakkebjerg, Forsøgsvej 1, 4200 Slagelse
Title of dissertation: Isolation, characterization and exploitation of Epichloë endophytes for grass breeding
Contact information: Giovanni Cagnano, e-mail: gca@dlf.com
Members of the assessment committee:
Professor David B. Collinge, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Professor Iñigo Zabalgogeazcoa, Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology of Salamanca, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (IRNASA-CSIC), Salamanca, Spain
Professor Søren Borg, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University
Main supervisor:
Professor Torben Asp, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University
Co-supervisor:
Christian Sig Jensen, Head of Biotech, DLF Seeds A/S, Denmark
Niels Roulund, Senior Breeder, DLF Seeds A/S, Denmark
Language: The PhD dissertation will be defended in English

The defence is public.
The PhD thesis is available for reading at the Graduate School of Science and Technology/GSST, Ny Munkegade 120, building 1521, 8000 Aarhus C.   

PhD defense