Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
I am an Assistant Professor at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. My research focuses on the role of bacterial endosymbionts on different insects through molecular genetic analysis. Microbes have crucial impacts on the ecology and evolution of their host and are therefore important factors in their biology. In particular I am interested in understanding the dynamics of how economically harmful pest insects are introduced into new areas and how the new environment influences their bacterial endosymbionts.
My primary study system has been two Tephritid fruit flies in the genus Rhagoletis that have recently invaded or are quarantine pests in Europe. I characterized the endosymbionts for these two Rhagoletis species that attack walnuts and cherries and compared them with populations in their native ranges in the USA. I have also described endosymbionts in a third Rhagoletis species that is a pest of apples in the USA but has yet to reach Europe. Further, I study the importance of the parasitoid community in different Rhagoletis species as a source of vectoring endosymbionts.
Beside Rhagoletis, I currently characterize the microbial community of Cacopsylla species, important vectors of phytoplasmas. Moreover I adress the question what causes different phytoplasma transmission efficiencies in insect vectors using the Cacopsylla-phytoplasma pathosystem as a model. By utilizing population genomic tools I am currently studying the tripartite interaction between the phytoplasma, the vector, and its microbiome.
Finally, I am involved in the study of phylogeographic as well as genomic projects of spruce bark beetle species in Europe and the role of endosymbionts in haplodiploid and diploid bark and ambrosia beetles and gall wasps.
Special Issue of Insects
Michael Gerth and I are editing a special issue of the open access journal Insects (ISSN 2075-4450, IF 2.139) entitled "Insect Symbionts: Evolution and Application". We welcome submissions covering the whole spectrum of insect–symbiont interaction, such as occurrence and diversity of insect symbionts, symbiont-induced host evolution, symbiont evolution within insects, and the usage of symbionts to combat insect pests.
For more information on the issue, please visit the Special Issue website.
If you are interested to contribute please send us a short abstract or tentative title.