Invited Speaker
Dr. Paco Romero

Dr. Paco Romero

Postharvest Pathology, Physiology and Biotechnology Lab., Food Biotechnology Department, Food Chemistry and Technology Institute (IATA-CSIC), Valencia, Spain
Speech Title: The effects of Cu deficient availability on tomato fruit quality and nutritional value

Abstract: Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient because it functions as a redox-active cofactor. Arable lands are often deficient in micronutrient contents and require fertilisers, which poses a high environmental and human risk. As plant nutritional deficiencies are transferred to consumers through diet and affect human health, we aimed to decipher the effect of suboptimal Cu availability on the nutritional value and quality of tomato, the most consumed fruit worldwide. Cu deficiency delays changes in lycopene content and fruit colour, but increases acidity, and advances the rise in antioxidant capacity and vitamin C content, during fruit colour change from green to light red. Cu deficiency also increases total phenolic and flavonoids in green fruit. In addition, changes in the contents of important micronutrients for human health, such as Cu, Fe, Zn and Mn, fluctuates throughout fruit ripening in response to Cu deficiency .

Biography: Dr. P. Romero graduated in Biological Sciences in 2006 and received a Master’s degree in Molecular, Cellular and Genetic Biology in 2007. In 2012 he doctorated in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), and was awarded with the Extraordinary Thesis Award of this University in 2014 for his dissertation on the identification of the molecular mechanisms involved in the dehydration response and ripening of citrus fruits, with special emphasis on determining the role of the hormone abscisic acid (ABA) and its signaling components in these processes. He has been also involved in investigating the role of ABA, ethylene and the phospholipid metabolism on the development of physiological alterations affecting fruit quality. During that period, he stablished collaboration with Dr. Concepcion Domingo (IVIA, Valencia, Spain) and Dr. J.K. Burns (CREC, Florida, USA), and was enrolled in 5 National Research Projects and in Industry research. Later, in collaboration with Dr. Lola Peñarrubia, he was involved in deciphering the relationship between ABA and the copper homeostasis in Arabidopsis. Since 2015, he has been awarded with two consecutive European Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual grants (MSCA-H2020). Within the first one (3F:FutureFreshFruit), in a coordinated project with Prof. Jocelyn KC Rose (Cornell University, NY, USA) and Dr. Teresa Lafuente (IATA-CSIC, Valencia, Spain), he studied the relationship of fruit softening, cuticle properties, ABA and water availability in tomato and citrus fruit. The second MSCA project (TOMACOP) deals with food quality and safety issues, aiming to evaluate the effects of copper soil availability and the use of copper-based fertilizers and pesticides on fruit quality and human health by means of the identification and characterization of the copper homeostasis-related components in tomato, the study of the transcriptomic responses to copper deficiency, and the evaluation of the effects of suboptimal Cu availability on the tomato fruit quality and nutritional value.
Currently, Dr. P. Romero is an Associated Researcher at the Postharvest Pathology, Physiology and Biotechnology Lab (IATA-CSIC) with over 26 peer-reviewed publications, 4 book chapters, a number of publications in Conferences and diffusion seminars and several general public and students engagement events. He is an Editorial Board member of the American Journal of Plant Biology, and a member of the Spanish Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM) and the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS).