George C. diCenzo
George began his research career 2010 as a summer student in the lab of Prof. Turlough Finan. He obtained his BSc in Honours Molecular Biology and Genetics from McMaster University (Canada) in 2012, and defended his PhD at the same institution in late 2016 under the supervision of Prof. Finan in the Department of Biology. He recently (May 2017) joined the group of Prof. Alessio Mengoni at the University of Florence as a post-doctoral fellow.
During his PhD work, he combined genome reduction approaches with molecular genetic, genomics, system-level, and in silico analyses to study the contributions of each replicon of S. meliloti to the biology of the free-living and symbiotic forms of the bacterium. Using this multi-faceted approach, his work has contributed to the understanding of the evolution and role of the complex S. meliloti genome structure, characterization of genes important for an effective symbiotic relationship or for competitive fitness as a free-living organism, and the development of wet-lab and in silico genomic resources for further characterization of these processes.
As a member of the Mengoni lab, his current work is focused on using in silico genome-scale metabolic network reconstruction and flux balance analysis, together with single gene and whole genome genetic studies, to characterize the genetics and metabolism of S. meliloti throughout its entire life-cycle. This includes as a free-living bacterium in the soil, during the initial interaction with a plant partner, and throughout the entire symbiotic development process. His long term goal is to develop novel strategies for manipulation of the rhizobium - legume symbiosis with the goal of improving this interaction in agricultural settings, as well as for producing synthetic N2-fixing symbioses with non-legume plants.