My research activity is aimed to improving the eco-sustainable control of pest insects.
• The first step is a complete characterization of the Multiorganismal insects (Holobionts).
Characterization is carried out using an integrative approach studying:
Morphology: at individual and population level (Uni and Multivariate Morphometric Analysis);
Biology: host range, modality of reproduction, occurrence of microbe-induced reproductive manipulations, parasitization behavior, reproductive potential on specific hosts and other biological traits;
Genetic: mitochondrial and nuclear genes analysis, phylogenetic reconstruction, phylogeographic analysis and methods of species delimitation, development of specific molecular markers, karyological analysis, genetic characterization of endosymbionts bacteria manipulators of reproduction (in particular PI Rickettsia).
• Use of parasitoids in classical, augmentative and conservative biological control.
Insect currently under study are both pests: a) the cynipid gall wasp Dryocosmus kuriphilus, a major pest of chestnut species; the South American tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta; the walnut husk fly, Rhagoletis completa; the North American walnut leafminer, Coptodisca lucifluella; the blue-gum chalcid, Leptocybe invasa; the olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae; the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly), Ceratitis capitata; and b) the complex of parasitoids that control them (Eulophidae wasps, in particular).