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Macarena Farcuh

Asst Prof

Assistant Professor

Plant Science & Landscape Architecture 2116 Plant Sciences Building 4291 Fieldhouse Drive College Park, MD 20742-4452

Biography

Biography: 

Macarena Farcuh is an Assistant Professor of Horticulture in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture. She is interested in investigating how to develop novel strategies for improving fruit quality, nutritional value, shelf-life capacity, safety and marketability throughout fruit development, harvest and postharvest storage. Macarena’s research program integrates diverse approaches, including systems biology, physiology, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, molecular biology, and sensory science. Her goal is to contribute to decrease fruit loss/waste, support environmental sustainability and, at the same time, enhance fruit consumption by meeting consumers’ expectations and thus improve the health and well-being of populations.

Macarena comes to the University of Maryland from the University of California, Davis, where she received her PhD in Horticulture and Agronomy. During her PhD she used a systems biology approach to dissect fruit quality-related pathways, with emphasis in sugar metabolism and hormone balance throughout ripening on-the-tree and postharvest storage. During her Post-Doctoral position, also at the University of California, Davis, she worked on the identification of breeding targets for texture and flavor improvement  during ripening in a melon breeding program by combining sensory, physiological, biochemical and transcriptomic studies.

Macarena is originally from Chile, where she received her B.S. and her M.S degree in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Chile, with focus on Fruit Postharvest Physiology/Biology. Additionally, she has four years of experience working at the interface between academia and industry, targeting the improvement of fruit quality/nutritional value and shelf-life capacity from a cross-functional perspective. In these positions she had the opportunity to work and interact with a broad range of members of the horticultural fruit production chain in Chile, while also engaging in extension activities.

Education: 

Ph.D., University of California, Davis, CA, Horticulture and Agronomy (2017)

M.S., University of Chile, Santiago, Agricultural Sciences (Fruit Production) (2007)

B.S., University of Chile, Santiago, Agricultural Sciences (2005) (with Distinction)

Awards and Honors: 

  • Fellow of the ‘Keller Pathway Fellowship Program’, UC Davis Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 2016-2017      http://bit.ly/2oYHlZd

  • Trellis Fund Award from the Horticulture Innovation Lab, UC Davis, 2014 – 2015 (in collaboration with Hort. Innovation Lab’s Regional Center at Kasetsart Univ., Thailand).

  • Henry A. Jastro Graduate Research Award, Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Group UC Davis, 2012-2014

  • Recipient, Best Student in Agricultural Sciences,University of Chile, Santiago, 2007.

Professional Work

Professional Positions Held: 

10/2019- Present Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park
2017- 2019 Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis
2012- 2017 Graduate Student Researcher, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis
2008- 2011 Research Associate, Technological Fruit Consortium: Chilean Fresh Fruit Exporters Association and Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago
2007- 2008 Research and Development Department, CHILE AGRO S.A. (Now ADAMA Chile

Research

Areas of Interest: 

  • Fruit quality

  • Fruit ripening

  • Postharvest physiology

  • Fruit biochemistry and molecular biology

  • Fruit safety

  • Fruit hormonal balance

Current Research: 

My research program focuses on studying fruit physiology/biology using interdisciplinary approaches. In the Farcuh lab, we investigate how to develop novel strategies for improving fruit quality, nutritional value, shelf-life capacity, safety and marketability throughout fruit development, harvest and postharvest storage. We integrate diverse disciplines including systems biology, physiology, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, molecular biology, and sensory science. 

Our aim is to incorporate the needs of Maryland fruit growers as well as of consumers in order to decrease fruit loss/waste, meet consumers’ expectations, and enhance fruit consumption.

The Farcuh Lab research interests include:

  • Identification of the key molecular, biochemical and metabolic mechanisms underlying fruit quality, nutritional value, shelf-life capacity, safety and marketability improvement.

  • Characterization and early prediction of fruit physiological disorders during pre and postharvest storage, for establishing efficient fruit management and handling practices.

  • Understanding hormonal balance and its relation to fruit ripening behavior.

  • Assessment of the impact of fruit production, management practices and environmental factors on fruit quality, nutritional value, shelf-life capacity, safety and marketability.

  • Studying the interrelationships between fruit quality, microbial fruit safety and fungal pathogens.

Publications

Selected Publications: 

Farcuh, M., Copes, B., Le-Navenec, G., Marroquin, J., Jaunet, T., Chi-Ham, C., Cantu, D., Bradford, K., Van Deynze, A. 2020. Texture diversity in melon (Cucumis melo L.): sensory and physical assessments. Postharvest Biol and Tech, 159, 11024. DOI: 10.1016/j.postharvbio.2019.111024

Sadka, A.,Qin, Q., Feng, F., Farcuh, M., Shlizerman, L., Zhang, Y., Toubiana, D., Blumwald, E. 2019. Ethylene Response of Plum ACC Synthase 1 (ACS1) Promoter is Mediated through the Binding Site of Abscisic Acid Insensitive 5 (ABI5). Plants 8(5), 117. DOI: 10.3390/plants8050117

Farcuh, M., Rivero, R., Sadka, A., Blumwald, E. 2019. Hormone balance during ripening of climacteric and non-climacteric fruits. Plant Science, 280: 51-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2018.11.001

Farcuh, M., Saha, P. and Blumwald, E. 2018. Using the genetic diversity of plum to explore the complexity of fruit ripening. Acta Hortic, 1194: 1337-1344. DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1194.188

Farcuh, M., Rivero, R., Sadka, A., Blumwald, E. 2018. Ethylene regulation of sugar metabolism in climacteric and non-climacteric fruits. Postharv Biol and Tech, 139: 20-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.postharvbio.2018.01.012

Farcuh, M., Li, B., Rivero, R., Shlizerman, L., Sadka, A., Blumwald, E. 2017. Sugar metabolism reprogramming in a non-climacteric bud mutant of a climacteric plum fruit during development on-the-tree. Journal of Experimental Botany, 68(21-22): 5813-5828. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erx391

Kim, HY, Saha, P., Farcuh, M.,Li, B., Blumwald, E. 2015. RNA-Seq analysis of spatiotemporal gene expression patterns during plum fruit development reveals candidate genes for transcript normalization using quantitative Real-Time PCR. Plant Mol Biol Rep, 33: 1634-1649. DOI: 10.1007/s11105-015-0860-3

Kim, HY, Farcuh, M.,Cohen, Y., Crisosto, C., Sadka, A., Blumwald, E. 2015. Non-climacteric ripening and sorbitol homeostasis in plum fruits. Plant Science, 231: 30-39. DOI: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2014.11.002

Infante, R., Farcuh, M., Meneses, C. 2008. Monitoring the sensorial quality and aroma through an electronic nose in peaches during cold storage. J Sci, Food Agric 88:2073-2078. DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.3316