National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources

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Francesco Mercati

Role: Researcher
Section: Researchers and Technologists
Division: Palermo
Tel: (39) 091-6574578

Curriculum vitae

Name: Francesco Mercati

Date and Place of Birth: 01.12.1976

Address: Institute of Biosciences and BioResources, Division of Palermo, National Research Council, Corso Calatafimi, 414, 90129 Palermo (PA), Italy.

Tel: +39 091 6574578, Fax. +39 091 423424


Work experience (from 2014 back to 2001)

Current position: from February 2013, Researcher at the Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources (IBBR) UOS Palermo, CNR - National Research Council of Italy.

July 2013 - November 2013: Independent contractor ( within the research project “Limseed Asparagus”, titled: “Isolation of genes involved in the sex determination in Asparagus officinalis L.”, at the University of Reggio Calabria, Department of AGRARIA.

March 2012 - January 2013: Post-doctoral fellow, titled: "Genetic characterization of Calabrian and Sicilian varieties in order to develop an Italian wine database”, at the University of Reggio Calabria, Department of AGRARIA.

December 2008 - December 2011: Phd student, on Biology applied to agri-food and forest systems. Title of thesis: “Development of a genetic map in asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) and isolation of markers associated to traits of interest", at the University of Reggio Calabria, Department of AGRARIA.

January 2011 - September 2011: Exchange student at the University of Georgia (USA), Department of Plant Biology, supervisor Prof. Jim Leebens Mack.

November 2008 - January 2009: Independent contractor ( within the project entitled "Technological and genetics characterization of indigenous microorganisms and interaction with the best clones of the grape varieties Nero d’Avola and Inzolia", at the University of Basilicata, Department of Biology, Conservation and Agro Forestry Biotechnology.

December 2007 - June 2008: Independent contractor ( within the project entitled: "Genetic characterization of double-haploid collection of cultivated asparagus”, at the University of Basilicata, Department of Biology, Conservation and Agro Forestry Biotechnology.

May 2006 - April 2007: Fellowship entitled: "Molecular and functional characterization of actinomycetes associated to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi”, at the University of Palermo, Department of Cell Biology and Development.

June 2004 - December 2005: Fellowship within the higher education project eTi Spa-MIUR, for young researchers, in Toxicology, Epidemiology and Risk Assessment, entitled: “New technologies -nanomaterials and biotechnology- application to tobacco products”, at the eTi S.p.A., now BAT (British American Tobacco) Italy.

January 2001 - March 2003: Stage within the project funded by the European Community, entitled: "Genetic polymorphisms and biomonitoring of styrene", at the University of Pisa, Department of Human Sciences and Environment.


PhD: University of Reggio Calabria, Department of AGRARIA, 2012

Batchelor Degree: University of Pisa, 2003


- EPS (Experimental Plant Sciences) PhD course: The power of RNA-seq. University of Wageningen, Netherlands, organized by “Laboratory of Bioinformatics of Wageningen university and the Netherlands Bioinformatics Centre (NBIC). 5 - 7 June 2013

- Blast2GO and Babelomics: suitable tools for functional annotation and data mining. University of Naples, Plant G&M, sponsored by the Italian Society of Agricultural Genetics (SIGA). 12 - 16 November 2012

- Training at the University of Georgia (USA), Department of Plant Biology, supervisor Prof. Jim Leebens Mack, to improve bioinformatics knowledge and genes and QTLs (Quantitative trait loci) identification in Asparagus officinalis L. January 2011 - August 2011

- European Networking Summer School (ENSS) Plant Epigenetics 2010, at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) (Germany). 20-24 September 2010

- In vitro culture and molecular genotyping approach in order to develop/select new plant material to be used in the research project entitled "Asparagus genetic map development and isolation of markers associated to traits of interest”, at the C.R.A., Montanaso Lombardo (LO), Research Unit for Vegetable Crops. June 2010 - July 2010

Main research topics:

- Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies and their implications for plant genetics, DNA barcode and structure population

Using the NGS approach we started studies on important topics of different species (Capparis spp., Vitis vinifera, Vitis sylvestirs, Olea europea L and medicinal plants). We performed a de novo assembly of the transcriptome of non-model species like Capparis spp. to develop a new and efficient panel of molecular markers to study inter and intra population diversity and increasing biodiversity conservation. We also carried out a differential expression study in Capparis spp. to discovery differentially expressed genes involved in the processes of environmental adaptation. In addition, since DNA barcoding is a widely used and effective tool that enables rapid and accurate identification of plant species, we isolated and sequenced whole plastidial genome of the principal olive and grape cultivars of Sicily to identify genetic variants and develop a barcoding system to characterize and safeguard the plant materials and their complex matrices (oil and wine).

- Molecular characterization

We have sampled a large panel of olive and grape cultivars (cultivated and wild populations) of Sicily and genotyped using different molecular markers (ISSR, AFLP, SSR) to underline inter and intra population diversity and to safeguard the biodiversity. In addition, we used the same kind of markers to investigate in different Citrus species the paternity of samples generate by somatic protoplast fusion (hybrids and cybrid genotypes) or to verify the genetic stability of plant regenerated by somatic embryogenesis (SE)


Selected Publications

(full list available at CNR People)

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