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Sara Serra

Sara Serra
Research Associate Professor, Tree Fruit Science 509-293-8769 Overley Lab- Wenatchee 1100 N Western Ave

Sara is currently Research Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Washington State University. She joined WSU at the Research and extension Center in Wenatchee (WA) in August 2013. She previously worked as Post Doc fellow at the University of Bologna, Italy, where she earned her Ph.D. in Fruit Tree Science and Forestry and Landscape Ornamental Agro-systems (2009) and her M.Sc. in Agricultural Biotechnology (2004). Sara integrates field projects management with laboratory expertise. Her research experience is mainly on tree physiology, training systems, rootstocks, orchard management, crop load, netting, flower pollination, fruit set and fruit quality on fruit trees especially apple and pear. She published so far 40 peer-reviewed articles, 2 extension articles and 15 proceedings.

Areas of Interest

  • Orchard management
  • Training systems
  • Rootstocks and cultivar evaluation
  • Light interception and light quality
  • Productive habitus
  • Fruit sorting, quality and ripening
  • Dry matter and non-destructive techniques to assess fruit quality
  • Flower biology, pollination and fruit set
  • Crop load
  • Graft-incompatibility
  • Saline stress


  • Baldassi C., Berim A., Roeder S., Losciale P., Serra S., Gang D.G., Musacchi S. (2023). “Rootstock and crop load effects on ‘Honeycrisp’ photosynthetic performance and carbohydrate accumulation”.  Plants 12(23), 4035  (IF=4.5 Q1)
  • Sheick, R., Serra, S., Musacchi, S. and Rudell, D. (2023). “Metabolic fingerprint of ‘WA 38’ green spot symptoms reveals increased production of epicuticular metabolites by parenchyma”. Scientia Horticulturae, 321, p.112257, (IF=4.3 Q1)
  • Musacchi, S., Sheick, R., Mia, M.J. and Serra, S., (2023). Studies on physiological and productive effects of multi-leader training systems and Prohexadione-Ca applications on apple cultivar ‘WA 38′. Scientia Horticulturae, 312, p.111850. (IF 4.342 Q1)
  • Sheick R., Serra S., Rudell D., Musacchi S*. (2022). “Investigations of Multiple Approaches to Reduce Green Spot Incidence in ‘WA 38’ Apple”. Agronomy, 12(11), p.2822., (IF=3.943 Q1)
  • Lezzer P., Tustin S., Corelli-Grappadelli L., Serra S., Anthony B., Dorigoni A., Musacchi S.* (2022). “Influences of Propagation Method, Rootstock, Number of Axes, and Cultivation Site on ‘Fuji’ Scions Grown as Single or Multi-Leader Trees in the Nursery.” Agronomy, 12(1), p.224., (IF=3.943 Q1)
  • Serra S.*🖉, Roeder S. +🖉, Sheick R., Musacchi S. (2022). “Pistil Biology of ‘WA 38’ Apple and Effect of Pollen Source on Pollen Tube Growth and Fruit Set.” Agronomy, 12(1), p.123., (IF=3.943 Q1)
  • Cline J.A., Autio W., Clements J., Cowgill W. Jr., Crassweller R., Einhorn T., Fallahi E., Francescatto P., Hoover E., Lang G., Lordan J., Moran R., Muehlbauer M., Musacchi S., Stasiak M., Parra Quesada R., Robinson T., Serra S., Sherif S., Wiepz R., Zandistra J. (2021). “Early Performance of ‘Honeycrisp’ Apple Trees on Several Size-Controlling Rootstocks in the 2014 NC-140 Rootstock Trial”. Journal of the American Pomological Society, 75: (4), (IF=0.33 Q4)
  • Roeder S. +*, Serra S., Musacchi, S. (2021). “Effective Pollination Period and Parentage Effect on Pollen Tube Growth in Apple”. Plants 2021, 10, 1618, (IF=3.965 Q1)
  • Roeder S. +, Serra S., Musacchi S.* (2021). “Novel Metrics to Characterize In Vitro Pollen Tube Growth Performance of Apple Cultivars”. Plants 10, 7, 1460, (IF=3.965 Q1)
  • Honaas L.*, Hargarten H., Hadish J., Ficklin S.P., Serra S., Musacchi S., Wafula E., Mattheis J., DePamphilis C.W., Rudell D. (2021). “Transcriptomics of Differential Ripening in ‘d’Anjou’ Pear (Pyrus communis L.).” Frontiers in Plant Science, 12 (IF 5.753 Q1)
  • Zhang C., Serra S., Quirós-Vargas J., Sangjan W., Musacchi S., Sankaran S.* (2021). “Non-invasive sensing techniques to phenotype multiple apple tree architectures”. Information Processing in Agriculture, Mar 2021 (IF 6.409 Q1)
  • Serra S., Anthony B., Boscolo Sesillo F., Masia A., Musacchi S.* (2021). “Determination of Post-Harvest Biochemical Composition, Enzymatic Activities, and Oxidative Browning in 14 Apple Cultivars”. Foods ,10, 1: 186. (IF 4.350 Q1)
  • Serra S. *, Borghi S., Mupambi G., Camargo-Alvarez H., Layne D., Schmidt T., Kalcsits L., Musacchi S. (2020): “Photoselective Protective Netting Improves ‘Honeycrisp’ Fruit Quality”. Plants, 9, 1708, (IF=3.965 Q1)
  • Serra S., Anthony B.M.+, Masia A., Giovannini D., Musacchi S.* (2020): “Determination of Biochemical Composition in Peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) Accessions Characterized by Different Flesh Color and Textural Typologies”. Foods, 9(10), p.1452, (IF 4.350 Q1)
  • Sheick R. +, Serra S., Tillman J., Luby J., Evans K., Musacchi S.* (2020). “Characterization of a novel S-RNase allele and genotyping of new apple Cultivars”. Scientia Horticulturae, 273, p.109630, (IF=2.769 Q1)
  • Goke A. +,🖉, Serra S. *,🖉, Musacchi S. (2020). “Manipulation of Fruit Dry Matter via Seasonal “Pruning and Its Relationship to d’Anjou Pear Yield and Fruit Quality”. Agronomy, 10, 897, doi:10.3390/agronomy10060897, (IF=2.259 Q1)
  • Anthony B.M. +, Serra S., Musacchi S.* (2020). “Optimization of Light Interception, Leaf Area and Yield in ’WA 38’: Comparisons among Training Systems, Rootstocks and Pruning Techniques”. Agronomy, 10(5), p.689, (IF=2.259 Q1)
  • Mesa K. +, Serra S., Masia A., Gagliardi F. +, Bucci D. +, Musacchi S.*, (2019). “Preliminary Study on Effect of Early Defoliation on Dry Matter Accumulation and Storage of Reserves on ‘Abbé Fétel’ Pear Trees”. HortScience, 54 (12), pp.2169-2177, (IF=0.906 Q2)
  • Elsysy, M.🖉, Serra, S. 🖉, Schwallier, P., Musacchi, S. and Einhorn, T. *, (2019). “Net Enclosure of ‘Honeycrisp’ and ‘Gala’ Apple Trees at Different Bloom Stages Affects Fruit Set and Alters Seed Production”. Agronomy, 9(9), p.478, (IF=2.259 Q1)
  • Anthony B.M. +, Serra S., Musacchi S.* (2019). “Optimizing Crop Load for New Apple Cultivar: ‘WA 38’”. Agronomy, 9(2), p.107, (IF=2.259 Q1)
  • Serra S., *,🖉 Goke A.,🖉 Diako C., Vixie B., Ross R. and Musacchi S. (2019). “Consumer perception of d’Anjou pear classified by dry matter at harvest using near-infrared spectroscopy”. International Journal of Food Science and Technology, 54, 2256–2265, (IF=2.281 Q2)
  • Serra S., Sullivan N., Mattheis J.P., Musacchi S., Rudell D.R. * (2018). “Canopy position influences metabolism and peel constituency of European pear fruit”. BMC Plant Biology, 18:364, (IF=3.67 Q1)
  • Mupambi G., Musacchi S., Serra S., Kalcsits L.A. *, Layne D.R. and Schmidt T. (2018). “Protective Netting Improves Leaf-level Photosynthetic Light Use Efficiency in ‘Honeycrisp’ Apple Under Heat Stress”. HortScience, 53(10), pp.1416-1422, (IF=0.906 Q2)
  • Mupambi G., Anthony B.M. +, Layne D.R., Musacchi S., Serra S., Schmidt T. and Kalcsits, Chelan L.A. * (2018). “The influence of protective netting on tree physiology and fruit quality of apple: A review”. Scientia Horticulturae, 236, pp.60-72, (IF=1.961 Q1)
  • Knerl A🖉,+, Anthony B. 🖉,+, Serra S., and Musacchi S.* (2018). “Optimization of Leaf Area Estimation in a High-Density Apple Orchard Using Hemispherical Photography”. HortScience, 53(6), pp.799-804, (IF=0.906 Q2)
  • Sheick R.+, Serra S., De Franceschi P., Dondini L., Musachi S.* (2018). “Characterization of a novel self-incompatibility allele in Malus and S-genotyping of select crabapple cultivars”. Scientia Horticulturae, 240, pp.186-195, (IF=1.961 Q1)
  • Goke A.+, Serra S.*, Musacchi S. (2018). “Postharvest Dry Matter and Soluble Solids Content Prediction in d’Anjou and Bartlett Pear Utilizing NIR Spectroscopy”. HortScience 53(5), pp.669-680, (IF=0.906 Q2)
  • Musacchi S.* and Serra S. (2018). “Apple fruit quality: overview on pre-harvest factors”. Scientia Horticulturae, 234, pp.409-430, (IF=1.961 Q1)
  • Rudell D. R., Serra S., Sullivan N., Mattheis J. P., & Musacchi S.* (2017). “Survey of ‘d’Anjou’ Pear Metabolic Profile Following Harvest from Different Canopy Positions and Fruit Tissues.” HortScience, 52(11), 1501-1510, (IF=0.906 Q2)
  • Kalcsits L., Mupambi G., Serra S., Musacchi S., Layne D., Schmidt T., Mendoza M., Asteggiano L., Sankaran S., Khot L, Jaralmasjed S., Zuniga C. (2016) “Above and below-ground environmental changes associated with the use of photoselective anti-hail netting in apple orchard.” Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 237, 9-17, (IF=4.189 Q1)
  • Mesa, K. +, Serra, S., Masia, A., Gagliardi, F. +, Bucci, D. +, & Musacchi, S. *(2016) “Seasonal trends of starch and soluble carbohydrates in fruits and leaves of ‘Abbé Fétel’ pear trees and their relationship to fruit quality parameters.” Scientia Horticulturae, 211, 60-69, (IF=1.961 Q1)
  • Serra S., Leisso R., Giordani L., Kalcsits L., Musacchi S.* (2016) “Crop load influences fruit quality, nutritional balance and return bloom in ‘Honeycrisp’ apple.” HortScience 51(3):236-244, (IF=0.906 Q2)
  • Zhang J., Serra S., Leisso R.S., Musacchi S.* (2016) “Effect of light microclimate on the quality of ‘d’Anjou’ pears in mature open-centre tree architecture”. Biosystems Engineering, 141:1-11 (IF=2.983 Q1)
  • Onelli E., Ghiani A., Gentili R., Serra S., Musacchi S., Citterio S.*(2015) “Specific changes of exocarp and mesocarp occurring during softening differently affect firmness in melting (MF) and non-melting flesh (NMF) fruit”. Plos One 10(12), e0145341, (IF=2.776 Q1)
  • Prinsi B.*, Musacchi S., Serra S., Sacchi G. A., & Espen L. (2015). Early proteomic changes in pear (Pyrus communis L.) calli induced by co-culture on microcallus suspension of incompatible quince (Cydonia oblonga Mill.). Scientia Horticulturae, 194, 337-343, (IF=1.961 Q1)
  • Musacchi S.*, Gagliardi F. + and Serra S. (2015). New Training Systems for High Density Planting of Sweet Cherry. HortScience 50(1):59–67. 2015, (IF=0.906 Q2)
  • Jajo A., Rahim Mda., Serra S., Gagliardi F. +, Jajo N.K., Musacchi S., Costa G., Bonghi C.* and Trainotti L. (2014). Impact of tree training system, branch type and position in the canopy on the ripening homogeneity of ‘Abbé Fétel’ pear fruit. Tree Genetics & Genomes, 10:1477–1488, (IF=1.862 Q1)
  • Orsini F., D’Urzo M.P., Inan G., Serra S., Oh D.H., Mickelbart M.V., Consiglio F., Li X., Jeong J.C., Yun D.J., Bohnert H.J., Bressan R.A., Maggio A.* (2010). “A comparative study of salt tolerance parameters in 11 wild relatives of Arabidopsis thaliana.” Journal of Experimental Botany, 31 (13): 3787-3798, (IF=5.36 Q1)
  • Costa F.*, Alba R., Schouten H., Soglio V., Gianfranceschi L., Serra S., Musacchi S., Sansavini S., Costa G., Fei Z., Giovannoni J. (2010). “Use of homologous and heterologous gene expression profiling tools to characterize transcription dynamics during apple fruit maturation and ripening.” BMC Plant Biol. 2010 25; 10(1):229, (IF=3.67 Q1)
  • Costa F.*, Peace C. P., Stella S., Serra S., Musacchi S., Bazzani M., Sansavini S., Van de Weg W.E. (2010). “QTL dynamics for fruit firmness and softening around and ethylene-dependent polygalacturonase gene in apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.).” Journal of Experimental Botany, 2010, 61 (11): 3029-3039, (IF=5.36 Q1)
  • Nocito F., Espen L., Fedeli, Lancilli C., Musacchi S., Serra S., Sansavini S., Cocucci M., Sacchi G.A.* (2010). “Oxidative stress and senescence-like status in pear calli co-cultured on quince microcalli suspensions in an in vitro graft model system.” Tree Physiology, 2010, 30: 450-458, (IF=3.477 Q1)

🖉= equal contribution

*= corresponding author