Dr. ​Mihali Kantor

Dr. Kantor shows students the crucial role that plants play in our life and encourages them to pursue a career that will help insure food security for the next generations.


As a plant scientist, Dr. Kantor conducts research for better teaching, trying to give students broad exposure to natural life. Even though he graduated with a degree in Horticulture, his research is mainly in the fields of plant biotechnology, plant breeding, and genetics. His current research focuses on: 1) employing the watermelon genome sequence to design PCR primers useful in the development of introgression lines used in the identification of genomic regions associated with disease resistance, 2) converting diploid watermelon lines to tetraploid lines used for developing elite seedless watermelon hybrid lines, 3) retrofitting and optimizing tissue culture and micro-propagation procedures for watermelon, 4) designing an experiment for genetic transformation with the idea to develop partenocarpic-seedless watermelon, and 5) identifying unique metabolomics and volatiles in resistant watermelon lines that could be used in breeding programs.


  • University of Agricultural Science and B.S. Horticulture Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca 2004, Romania
  • Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, M.S. Computer Science, Romania, 2006
  • Claflin University, SC M.S. Biotechnology, 2009
  • University of Agricultural Science and Ph.D. Horticulture Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca 2011, Romania

Research Interests

  • Plant breeding
  • Plant biotechnology
  • Genetics and genomics
  • Plant metabolomics
  • Entomology


Dr. Kantor's experience is mostly in the fields of genetic research and biotechnology (genetic transformation, tissue culture, and mutagenesis). He has been conducting genetic and biotechnology research to enhance disease and pest resistance in vegetable crops. Over the past two years he collaborated closely with Dr. Amnon Levi at the USDA, ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston on using genetic and genomic technologies to enhance disease and pest resistance in watermelon cultivars. As a result of many years of domestication and selection for desirable fruit qualities, watermelon cultivars share a narrow genetic base and are susceptible to a large number of diseases and pests. To address this problem, he and Dr. Levi have been developing genetic populations segregating for resistance to papaya ring-spot virus (PRSV) in the desert watermelon Citrullus colocynthis. Through these collaborative efforts they plan to phenotype and genotype the genetic populations and to identify gene loci that confer resistance. Also, they intend to develop DNA markers useful in breeding programs to incorporate the resistance into the genome of elite watermelon cultivars.

During the past five years Dr. Kantor has strengthened his skills and gained experience in plant breeding and genetics research with emphasis on enhancing resistance to biotic and abiotic stress in crop plants. Prior to this, his PhD thesis involved creating edible vaccines for malaria disease. Although his thesis did not manage to accomplish all the initially proposed goals, it successfully demonstrated the integration of the gene of interest at the DNA and RNA level as well as the presence of the protein of interest confirmed by Western blot analysis. The results of his studies were published as a first author and co-author in five publications, four of which were peer-reviewed.

Recent Publications

  • Kantor C. & Kantor M. (2015), Collard greens to address lactose intolerance in African Americans. A Simple Targeted Public Health Policy with Broad Ramifications, “Spatial Epidemiology of Socioeconomic Determinants of Health” Session, Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Chicago
  • Kantor M., Sestras R. & Chowdhury K., 2013, Transgenic tomato plants expressing the antigen gene PfCP 2.9 of Plasmodium falciparum, Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira (Brazilian Journal of Agricultural Research), 48 (1), p.73-79, DOI: 10.1590/S0100-204X2013000100010

Dr. ​Mihali Kantor
Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology
  • School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics
JST 218
803-535 5664