The main topic of my research activity concerns the biological control of insect pests, which cause losses to major agriculture crops. I am particularly interested in the interactions between plants and the surrounding environment toward the emission of volatile compounds, and the natural enemies characterization throughout morphological and molecular techniques.
Volatile Organic Compounds emitted by plants play a rule in the regulation of plant-plant and plant-insects interaction. I am interested to study these interactions toward behavioral bioassays carried on parasitoids and pests, and to identify VOCs appointed to defensive functions by Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry.
Recently we passed from the study concerns single pest-plant interactions to an holistic approach considering the whole complex of stress faced by plant into a natural environment.
In line with this purpose I am involved in projects focusing on: multiple stresses caused, at the same time, by different kind of pest (e.g. sucker and chewer pests); benefits gained by plants from the symbiosis with root fungi (e.g. Trichoderma spp); and the impact evaluation of different abiotic stress such as drought and salinity
The principal aim of above mentioned topics is to understand how different stress impact on the natural enemies’ attractions and how they influence defensive mechanisms.
On the other hand I am involved to characterize the natural enemies using morphometric analysis and molecular techniques as well. The goal is to use them in pest biological control strategies.