Maria Flavia Pitruzzello

Research Fellow
Scientific Tutor: Antonio Biondi
  • Apr 2024 - Ongoing: Research Grant, University of Catania (Di3A). Supervisor: Prof. Antonio Biondi. Topic: “Multilevel analysis of host-parasitoid interactions in Drosophila’’ (D.R. n. 4905 del 18/12/2023) activated within the research program “Success of Specialist versus generalist parasitoid in Hampering the spread of an Invasive pest, 20227ZYCH3 - CUP E53D23007480006”.
  • Sep 2023 – Feb 2024: Research Grant, University of Catania (Di3A). Supervisor: Prof. Antonio Biondi. Topic: “Characterization of lethal and sublethal toxicity of natural substances against pests and natural enemies'' (D.R. n. 2239 del 05/06/2023) activated within the research program “Bio-inspired Plant Protection - BiPP" - cod. 2020T58TA3”.
  • Oct 2022 – Mar 2023: Research intern at LIST (Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology). Supervisor: Dr. Jurgen Junk. Topic: “Validation of microbial-derived biopesticides for controlling whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci MED) and diamond-back moths (Plutella xylostella)”.
  • 2022: Master’s Degree in Agricultural Science and Technology (LM-69), University of Catania. Supervisor: Prof. Antonio Biondi. Thesis: “Multitrophic interactions mediated by different water regimes in Solanum lycopersicum and Triticum aestivum.  Final mark: 110/110 cum laude.
  • 2020: Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Science and Technology (L-25), University of Catania. Supervisor: Prof. Antonio Biondi. Thesis: “Multitrophic interactions mediated by HIPVs in Solanum lycopersicum''. Final mark: 110/110 cum laude.
  • 2017: Scientific High School Graduation. Liceo Scientifico "Luigi Einaudi", Siracusa (Italy). Final mark: 98/100.

Implementation of rearing of pests (e.g., Drosophila suzukiiTuta absolutaPhenacoccus solenopsisSitobion fragariae) and their natural enemies (e.g., Leptopilina spp., Pachycrepoideus vindemmiaeTrichopria drosophilaeNecremnus tutaeCryptolaemus montrouzieri), with special focus on D. suzukii and its larval parasitoid Ganaspis brasiliensis

Conduction of bioassays to evaluate the behavioral response of natural enemies to volatile organic compounds emitted by stressed plants in a two-way olfactometer;

Study of the expression of major genes involved in plant defense (RNA extraction, RT-qPCR).

Evaluation of lethal and sublethal effects of naturally derived substances against target insects and their natural enemies; 

Conduction of bioassays to assess various aspects of host-parasitoid interactions, such as host seeking, host acceptance, and parasitizing behavior;

Lisi F., Cavallaro C., Pitruzzello M.F., Arnó J., Desneux N., Han P., Wang X., Zappalà L., Biondi A., Gugliuzzo A. (2024). Compatibility of bioinsecticides with parasitoids for enhanced integrated pest management of Drosophila suzukii and Tuta absoluta. Under review.

Pitruzzello M.F., Milordo M., Cocuzza G., Zappalà L., Biondi A., Ricupero M. (2023). Multitrophic interactions in tomato and wheat under drought stress. XXII European Congress of Entomology; Cultural Conference Center of Heraklion, Crete, Greece; 16-20 october 2023.