Dario Cantu

Dario Cantu

Position Title
Associate Professor and Louis P. Martini Endowed Chair in Viticulture

Viticulture and Enology


Dario Cantu is Associate 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 and Technologies. Dario moved to Davis, California, in 2005 to pursue a Ph.D. 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 Dubcovksy, where he pioneered the use of next generation sequencing technologies for a variety of genomics projects, from plant epigenetics, transcriptomics to whole-genome assembly and comparative genomics in both plants and microbial pathogens. 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. At UC Davis, among other things, Dario has led multiple genome sequencing projects mostly related to grapes and microorganisms responsible of common grapevine diseases.

Research interests:

Plant diseases, plant and fungal genomics, plant genetics and breeding, plant resistance to pathogens, plant and pathogen evolution, fungicide resistance, fruit ripening and quality, plant microbiomes.

Brief overview:

We integrate principles of systems biology, genomics and quantitative genetics and use bioinformatics, biochemistry and molecular biology to study and improve complex traits in grapes and other fruit and field crops. 

Current projects:

  • Genetics and evolution of grapevine trunk pathogens
  • Development of genome references for grape cultivars and other crops
  • Genetic bases of wine grape flavor
  • Application of next generation sequencing to plant pathogen diagnostics
  • Pathogenomics of cocoa diseases
  • Genetic resistance to powdery mildew in grapes
  • Induction of grapevine immunity by application of Xylella fastidiosa pathogen associated molecular patterns
  • Impact of disease on plant metabolism, yield and crop quality