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Biology and Entomology

Activity in brief...

  • Research on the biology of the most important animal pests in poplar cultivation and arboriculture for wood production and development of strategies for their control.
  • Study of host-parasite relationships and in particular, the resistance of plants to insect attack.
  • Study of the side-effects of chemical treatments through the use of bioindicators.



Damage caused to poplar cultivation by insect pests is considerable and in global terms is estimated at about 10 % of potential wood production. Wood-boring insects are particularly to be feared, as they cause, even at low population levels, a serious decline in the quality of wood destined for the plywood industry and, consequently, economic loss. Study of their behaviour is essential, as is the interaction with differing types of cultivation (cultivation for high-quality wood and for biomass), in order to identify effective low-cost control strategies with limited environmental impact. Particular attention must be paid to the study of the genetic resistance of poplars to insect attack and to the identification of its mechanisms, including biochemical ones.

As a result of the rapid increase in international trade, new parasites such as Hyphantria cunea, Metcalfa pruinosa and Platypus mutatus have been fairly recently introduced into Italy. Their behaviour in a climate and environment which differs from their original ones must be studied in depth, as must the evolution of new relationships between the pests and their indigenous natural enemies. Studying the behaviour of Platypus mutatus and strategies for its control deserves particular attention, since this devastating wood-boring pest from South America can become a limiting factor for the development of national wood production.


General aims and planning strategies 

  • Research on the biology of the most important animal pests in poplar cultivation and arboriculture for wood production and development of strategies for their control.
  • Research on the biology of pests recently introduced into Italy, in particular Platypus mutatus, and development of strategies for their control.
  • Understanding the resistance mechanisms of poplar to insect attack as a basis for genetic improvement strategies or early testing to evaluate resistance.
  • Assessing new strategies for the use of chemicals to control insect pests in tree cultivation and their environmental impact.
  • Research on strategies of biological control of parasites in plantations of arboriculture for wood production.
  • Research on the natural enemies of insect pests in plantations of arboriculture for wood production.
  • Research on host-environment-pest interaction.
  • Study of insects populations in natural and agricultural environments as support for management strategies.


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Staff Research concluded () or ACTIVE()
Researchers
Allegro Gianni

Technicians
Picco Franco

Operators
Bazzani Rinaldo 

DEFOPIOP
Research on defoliation for an evaluation of the economic threshold of perst damage
ENTOPIO

ESPLORA

PARCO
Studies on the mechanisms of poplar resistance to cortical parasites
PLATYPUS
Research on Platypus mutatus Chapuis, a South American parasite recently introduced in Italy (Coleoptera, Platypodiae)