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CROP PROTECTION | Insect Parasitology and Pathology/Phytophagous Insects and Pest Control

Bee parasites and pathogens and their role in colony losses

Bee-parasites Analysis of the molecular mechanisms modulating the honey bee stress response to pathogens and parasites and the resulting immunosuppression syndrome, which underlies colony decline and eventual collapse.

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Forest entomology and zoology

Forest-entomology-and-zoology These studies are focused on insects which have a relevant role in forest ecosystems, from different points of view. Special emphasis is addressed to threatened species,  phytophagous insects and their natural antagonists and to the symbiotic relationship between xylophagous  insects and plant pathogens harmful to forest ecosystems.

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Insect parasitoids

Insect-parasitoids Studies on physiology and development of parasitic Hymenoptera, and on molecular interactions with their hosts. The analysis of the mechanisms underpinning antagonistic associations in insects provides background information for the development of bio-inspired pest control technologies.

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Insect pathology and biopesticides

Insect-pathology-and-biopesticides Studies on insect pathogens and on natural molecules with insecticidal activity. Special emphasis is devoted to toxins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis, which is one of the most used and effective antagonists of insects.

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Insect-plant interactions

Insect-plant-interactions Analysis of the molecular and functional interplay between plants and phytophagous insects, to unravel how co-evolution has shaped attack strategies and defense responses, as a basis to develop new pest control strategies inspired and exploiting these mechanisms.

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Invasive species

Invasive-species Phytosanitary surveillance is essential to prevent the entrance and/or diffusion of new pest species. Our group, in collaboration with Regional Plant Protection Organizations (Servizi Fitosanitari Regionali Campania, Lazio), actively operates to monitor the presence and the distribution of quarantine species and of relevant zoogeographical records.

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Midgut physiology and bioinsecticide delivery

Midgut-physiology Insect midgut is the major site of nutrient absorption and an effective barrier against absorption of natural macromolecules with insecticidal activity. The study of its physiology is essential to design new pest control technologies targeting insect digestion and absorption, or that require the delivery across the gut barrier of bioinsecticide molecules.

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Pest control applications

Pest-control-applications Conventional and novel pest control technologies, based on the use of synthetic and natural molecules, are currently being developed by merging different expertise and tools available.

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Pests of Non-food/Non-feed Plant Products

Pests-of-Non-food New research is underway on non-food industrial crops to identify the pests, their trophic activity and reproductive, damage, natural enemies and control management

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Polydnavirus and immunosuppression

Polydnavirus-and-immunosuppression Molecular and functional studies on symbiotic viruses associated with parasitic wasps, which suppress the immune response and disrupt the development of the attacked insect host. The virulence factors encoded by these viruses are good candidates for the development of new bioinsecticides.

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