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Vitamaria Pantano's thesis wins the Giorgio Fazari Scholarship.

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Vitamaria Pantano's thesis wins the Giorgio Fazari Scholarship.

The scholarship in memory of Giorgio Fazari.

Also this year, on the 8th of March, the deadline for the submission of applications for the scholarship established by the Association "PrimOlio" and the Olearia San Giorgio, named after Giorgio Fazari. The competition is open to students from universities all over Italy who, during the regular course of study, have obtained a Master's Degree in technical-scientific disciplines with a score of not less than 100/110; the theses should concern the olive, olive oil and elaio-technical sector and deal with agricultural, pharmacological, biological, gastronomic, chemical, medical and engineering aspects. The second edition was very well attended and was won by Dr Vitamaria Pantano from Partanna (TP), from the Department of Agriculture at the University of Palermo; this article lists the members of the Committee, the candidates, the Supervisor, the theses and a summary of the winning one.

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The Commission, the candidates and the theses.

On 25 June, birthday of the late Giorgio Fazari, the six finalists and the committee chaired by Prof. Maurizio Servili of the University of Perugia and composed of Domenico Fazari, Prof. Giuseppe Zimbalatti, Domenico Fazio, Prof. Rocco Mafrica, Dr. Rosario Franco, Dr. Antonio Fazari, Avv. Rosario Milicia, Dr. Maurizio Pescari and Dr. Antonio Boschetti, met on a digital platform for the final stage of the event and the awarding of the scholarship. In contrast to the previous all-pink edition, this year the finalists were equally divided, which is further proof of the strong interest of young people in olive-growing, both technically and economically-environmentally; here are the finalists and their theses:

- Pantano Vitamaria - UNIPA - Morphological and molecular characterisation of olive tree accessions of the Sicilian native germplasm;

- Imeneo Valeria - UNIRC - Evaluation of the efficacy as food ingredients of compounds extracted from olive oil industry by-products;

- Fantechi Tommaso - UNIFI - Olive oil, oily and healthy: an appetising message? Application of a hybrid model for the analysis of young people's preferences;

- Franceschetti Linda - UNIPG - The role of calcium in the virulence of pseudomonas savastanoi pv. Savastanoi in micropropagated olive tree seedlings;

- Petracca Antonio - UNIPG - The use of environmental certifications as a green marketing strategy: the case of the carbon footprint of olive oil;

- Lilli Emanuele - UNIPG - Effects of selenium in olive trees under conditions of salt stress;

All participants received a copy of the book "L'olio e gli altri ingredienti della nostra vita" (Oil and other ingredients of our life) published by Rubbettino and written by Maurizio Pescari, member of the evaluation commission.

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The winner of the 2021 edition.

We asked Dr Vitamaria Pantano to tell us about herself, her studies and her passion for olive growing, and here is a summary of the interview. I was born on 25 June 1995, the same day that Giorgio Fazari was born and on which I was informed that I was the winner of the second scholarship dedicated to him. My academic career is the result of passions handed down through the generations of my family; I obtained my Bachelor's degree in Agro-Engineering in March 2018 with a mark of 110/110 cum laude, with an experimental thesis in plant pathology entitled "Nucleotide sequence of a new recombinant of tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), isolated from tomato plants, that overcomes the resistance gene Ty-1". In March 2020, I completed my studies with a Master's degree in Agricultural Science and Technology curr. Plant Production with a grade of 110/110 cum laude and mention, with a thesis entitled "Morphological and molecular characterisation of olive tree accessions from the native Sicilian germplasm". My greatest passion is olive-growing and the achievement of my master's thesis has increased my knowledge and fuelled my desire to discover and improve Sicilian agriculture.  Since 2017 I have been running the family business, located in the Belice Valley, Castelvetrano (TP), already known and renowned for its indigenous variety, we also grow olives that produce calibrated table olives and evo oils of the Nocellara del Belice variety. In 2019 I was the winner of the PSR- Sicilia 2014/2020 measure 6.1-4.1 notice as a young agricultural entrepreneur which gave me the opportunity to realise my dreams and at the moment we're in the process of building a structure to be used as a factory for the creation of a mini-frantoio, in order to guarantee the closure of the supply chain of my company. In November 2020 I qualified and enrolled in the Order of Agronomists and Foresters of the Province of Trapani and currently I also carry out phytosanitary control activities as a technical consultant for some companies in the sector.

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The thesis on the "Morphological and molecular characterisation of olive tree accessions of the Sicilian autochthonous germplasm".

On all the genotypes under study, was carried out:

- A molecular analysis using microsatellite molecular markers, which are recommended in the literature and have high discriminating capacity. Specifically, 12 microsatellite primers were used.

- An analysis of both quantitative and qualitative morphological characters, considering variables on a numerical scale, on an ordinal scale and on a nominal scale. In particular, 12 morphological characters relating to the fruit, 15 relating to the endocarp, 9 relating to the leaf, 3 relating to the inflorescence and 3 morphological characters relating to the tree were studied.

The microsatellite primers chosen for varietal characterisation proved to be highly polymorphic and discriminating, presenting a high level of heterozygosity and high genetic variability. From the molecular analysis, it was possible to discriminate 44 genotypes unequivocally. Five groups showed identity. From the analysis of the 42 morphological characters studied, all the accessions/cultivars examined were discriminated and no cases of synonymy were highlighted. Identity groups identified by molecular analysis were not confirmed by morphological analysis. Exact knowledge of the varieties of olive trees grown on the island has always been a priority for farmers, technicians, entrepreneurs and scientists for the correct and rational management of olive groves. In 1952, Bottari and Spina carried out specific investigations in order to discriminate and catalogue the numerous synonyms and homonyms relating to each of the olive varieties examined. The present work on a molecular and morphological ex situ basis has allowed clarity in the naming of the Sicilian germplasm accessions, disproving the varietal synonyms claimed by Bottari and Spina on an in situ morphological basis (1952).


…Giorgio's inebriating smile is one of the most beautiful memories of this season of my life, as a family man and as a man...Mimì

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