Maria Lodovica Gullino, a professor at Torino University and president of the International Society of Plant Pathology (ISPP), has been nominated for her remarkable achievements and leadership in research, her teaching, and her contributions to the agricultural community and to the international community of plant pathology as a whole.
Gullino was born in Saluzzo, northern Italy. She earned an M.Sc. degree in biological sciences at the University of Torino and has spent periods of research at the universities of Wageningen, Maryland, Cornell, and Penn State. Gullino’s research covers a variety of interrelated topics in an optimal combination of fundamental and applied studies. In the 1980s, she was among the first to study the emerging problem of fungicide resistance. Those studies included an exploration of mechanisms of resistance, the development of strategies to cope with the resistance, studies on cross-resistance, the use of fungicide combinations and the resultant synergism or antagonism, and monitoring resistant fungal populations. Her success in this endeavor is also reflected in many refereed articles, co-edited books, and chapters and invited reviews, including a feature article in Plant Disease and a comprehensive review in the Annual Review Phytopathology.
A major focus of Gullino’s research concerns biological and integrated control, with a close connection to sustainable crop protection. She has studied many aspects of biocontrol from fundamental work on mechanisms, suppressiveness, and improvement of biocontrol through genetic manipulation to application in the field. She also studied the formulation and production of biocontrol agents and risk assessments, a frequently overlooked topic. Her biocontrol studies progressed further to their incorporation in integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, constituting a holistic approach that embraced aspects of environment, technology transfer, safety, economics, social, legislative, and political implications. Although IPM is emphasized and praised by many authors, it is rarely implemented fully and correctly, as was done by Gullino’s group. These numerous biocontrol and IPM studies are reflected in many publications, including reviews and books. Her co-edited book on IPM in greenhouses makes a major contribution to this subject.
Gullino has been very active, nationally and internationally, in facing the methyl bromide (MB) crisis and in developing alternatives. Italy was a major consumer of MB. However, Gullino’s studies (in close cooperation with national and international groups and agencies) led to MB’s replacement with reasonable alternatives which also inspired other countries (feature article, 2003).
Gullino has studied many aspects of ecology, etiology, epidemiology, management, and molecular diagnosis of soilborne pathogens, including pathogens of emerging and reemerging diseases, in soil and soilless cultures, covering major vegetable and ornamental crops and postharvest diseases, as reflected in numerous publications, including her co-edited book on Fusarium (APS PRESS, 2011). She is also involved in the new and rising topics of crop biosafety and agroterrorism, through international cooperation between European countries and the United States, under her leadership (see her two co-edited books on this subject, 2008 and 2010).
Gullino is heavily involved in teaching, both at her university and department and at the international level. Since 2003, she has also served as the director of high level courses on sustainable development at the Venice International University. Gullino’s close cooperation with the agricultural community, the public, extension and industry sectors, and many organizations is remarkable. She has served on many committees, missions, and forums regarding plant protection, environment, agriculture, and policy. This is reflected in hundreds of publications in Italian. She is involved in knowledge transfer and has edited a book on the topic.
Gullino has been involved in a multitude of cooperative endeavors, at both national and international levels. She has established and led research groups, been successful in competitive national and international projects, and organized and chaired the International Congress of Plant Pathology. She is very sensitive to helping developing countries, as reflected in her organization of courses and training for students from those countries and her collaboration on research projects with, among other countries, China. In 2002, together with A. Garibaldi, she established AGROINNOVA at the University of Torino, a “Centre of Competence” devoted to basic and applied research, knowledge and technology transfer, and communication and dissemination of results in the agroenvironment and agro-food arenas. As AGROINNOVA’s director, Gullino has been able to attract a significant number of national and international grants and to build a group of 50 people. Within AGROINNOVA, Gullino has invested resources in both the development of a task force and the implementation of knowledge and technology-transfer projects. In the few years of its existence, AGROINNOVA, which is at present one of the best-funded research centers in Italy, has gained worldwide recognition. In 2009, Gullino started, with two partners, a university spin-off, AgriNewTech, S.r.l., of which she is CEO. Over the years, Gullino has developed a strong attitude toward building effective interdisciplinary networks.
Gullino is also highly active in scientific societies. She has served as president of the Italian Society of Plant Protection (1999–2004) and of the Association of the Scientific Societies in Agricultural Sciences (2002–2004) and as vice president of ISPP (2003-2008) and president until 2013. At the University of Torino, she has been in charge of international affairs since 1998 and vice rector since 2008. Her scientific output includes 250 refereed papers and disease notes, 14 reviews, 14 books, 42 book chapters, and two patents. Moreover, she is the author of hundreds of extension and technical publications, which reflect her desire to stay in close contact with technicians and growers. As a professional journalist, Gullino is also active in communicating research results and writing in technical journals, as well visiting farms and growers all over the world.
Throughout her career, Gullino has demonstrated strong scientific and managerial leadership, and she is known for her most pleasant and cooperative personality. Her farm background is certainly the source of her love for agriculture and her desire to assist farmers.