Crag News

CRAG welcomes 7 new AGenT postdoctoral fellows in its third and fourth call

Seven young researchers will conduct multidisciplinary and intersectoral projects in agricultural genomics at CRAG.
The seven new AGenT postdoctoral researchers.
The seven new AGenT postdoctoral researchers.

Seven new researchers have recently been integrated into CRAG’s team, hailing from a diverse array of countries (China, Tunisia, Spain, Argentina, Kenya and India). They were chosen during the latest two rounds of the AGenT (Agricultural Genomics Transversal) training programme, a forward-thinking project supported by the H2020-MSCA-COFUND 2019 grant, aimed at fostering collaborative research endeavors with associated entities.

CRAG is dedicated to converting the fruits of its pioneering research into societal gains, with research initiatives poised to propel forward scientific areas of paramount societal importance, pivotal for the fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. CRAG provides an enriching and motivational setting for scholars to augment their expertise in specific scientific domains as well as in versatile and cross-disciplinary competencies, to encourage temporary assignments and research collaborations, and to cultivate significant connections within both scholarly and commercial spheres.


These are the new AGenT postdoctoral fellows and their research project lines:

  • Mercedes Rocafort  (Spain) is studying how a bacterial plant pathogen survives and establishes in the rhizosphere microbiome to successfully achieve plant infection. She aims to identify key genes required for the fitness of the bacteria in this environment, which can facilitate the future engineering of plants with robust microbiota that offer protection against plant diseases.
  • Imen Baazaoui  (Tunisia) is interested in how the replacement of local goat breeds by highly productive transboundary breeds contributes to a decline in population size and may even lead to the extinction of certain breeds. Her research project focuses on exploring goat functional diversity using worldwide WGS data and quantifying to which extent breed replacement involves the loss of unique genetic variants with adaptive importance.
  • Priyamedha Sengupta (India) is investigating how the post-translational modification system of SUMOylation in Arabidopsis thaliana is affected during infection by necrotrophic fungal pathogens.  Unravelling the molecular mechanism behind SUMO depletion during plant-fungal interaction will provide deeper insights regarding fungal virulence strategies and developing disease resistant plants.
  • Yuxi Hu (China) is interested in the genomic dynamics of crop wild relatives and the domestication process of crops. She is working on constructing super pan-genomes for several horticultural crops, with the aim of understanding the genomic evolutionary history of crops during domestication and cultivation.
  • Zhiheng Huang (China) is interested in how circadian clock plays a role in plant development and stress responses. He studies how core clock genes regulate output gene expression and plant phenotype during drought stress and attempts to generate drought-tolerance plants using circadian system.
  • Marisol Giustozzi (Argentina) is studying the molecular mechanisms governing cold responses in seasonal strawberries. She explores chromatin dynamics during chilling, shedding light on the genetic determinants of strawberry cold tolerance to uncover the genes and regulatory pathways involved in breaking dormancy and promoting flowering.
  • Margaret Mukami Gitau (Kenya) is investigating the function of specific pivotal network hub factors implicated in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii's response to abiotic stress. She aims to determine whether genetic modifications directed at these factors could generate microalgal strains demonstrating heightened resilience to various abiotic stresses, while also enhancing their effectiveness as plant biostimulants.


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