Since the beginning, research of Dr. De Luca has concerned the use of most advanced molecular methodologies applied to the study of plant parasitic nematodes. By using different molecular markers, she provided a contribution to identification and phylogeography of economically important plant parasitic and entomopathogenic nematodes from Italy and from foreign countries (Xiphinema, Meloidogyne, Longidorus, Pratylenchus, Oscheius, Steinernema and Heterorhabditis), affecting the quality of agricultural or nursery crops. She is also involved in the study of molecular mechanisms at the basis of the nematode-plant/insect interaction. She focuses on genes involved in parasitism, such as hsp90, endoglucanases, collagens, major sperm proteins, acetylcholinesterases, both in terms of characterization and expression, in relation to climate changes. More recently, dr De Luca is also involved in the molecular delucidation of the thermotolerance in the entomopathogenic nematodes to be used as Biological Control Agent (BCA) in the control of insects. She is also involved in research on the molecular mechanisms of nematicidal activity of natural compounds (extracts, essential oils). In this context, she provides support to some experimental activity of Companies. Dr. De Luca is interested in the study of soil nematofauna as bioindicator of soil health, by metagenomic approach. More recently, she has been involved in the monitoring and sustainable management of plant parasitic nematodes associated to grapevine and corn crops. Dr. De Luca has developed several collaborations abroad (Bulgaria, Hungary, Georgia and Lebanon). She carries out regular teaching activities, both tutoring thesis work of students, and training Italian and foreign fellows and PhD students, and by teaching assignment of university lectures. Her participation to IPSP Dissemination Group (GruCoDis) has allowed her to organize and participate to scientific dissemination events. She is grant reviewer for European research projects and peer reviewer for several international journals.
Project leader for: NemaGest – MBLab