Barbara Blanco-Ulate

Barbara Blanco-Ulate

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Unit
Plant Sciences


Bio

Blanco-Ulate, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, focuses on postharvest physiology. She received her Ph.D. in plant biology from UC Davis before joining the faculty in 2016.

Research interests: 

Fruit ripening, fruit softening, fruit quality, fruit-pathogen interactions, postharvest pathogens, systems biology, biotechnology 

Brief overview:

Fruit susceptibility to postharvest pathogens cause significant losses of fresh produce and product sales worldwide. Spoilage caused by fungi hinders fruit storability, shipping, and shelf life. The severity of this problem is intensified in developing countries, where pre- and postharvest technologies are limited. Postharvest losses due to rotting are also influenced by climate change, which impacts fruit physiology and increases pathogen pressures in the field.

My research focuses on the regulation of fruit ripening and susceptibility to fungal pathogens. I integrate systems biology with biochemical and physiological analyses to study fruit physiology and to establish a novel framework for early detection and efficient management of postharvest diseases. I also apply this integrative approach to investigate other postharvest traits, such as fruit softening, nutritional value, and sensory attributes. By understanding specific ripening events that promote susceptibility, I hope to help facilitate the development of commodities with improved quality and less susceptiblility to fungal infections. 

Current projects:

  • Studying the intersection between the regulation of fruit ripening and susceptibility to postharvest pathogens
  • Analyzing genetic interactions between transcription factors that control tomato-fruit ripening 
  • Improving fruit texture by modulating fruit cell-wall deconstruction

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