- My MSc thesis focus mainly on the phylogeographic patterns of the hunter fly, Coenosia attenuata. This predator is receiving attention for its potential as a biological control agent in greenhouse crops, especially of important pests such as witheflies and leafminers. Genetic characterization of natural populations of C. attenuata, together with ecological and behavioral information is, nonetheless, fairly unknown. I am interested in the assessment of the genetic diversity and evolutionary history of the species, using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers.
This work is supported by an FCT project lead by Instituto Superior de Agronomia: “FLYPRED - Has tiger-fly a role in biological control of protected crops?” (PTDC/AGR-AAM/099723/2008)
- I am also currently involved in another project which aims the development of diagnostic molecular markers for the identification of possible hybrids between two mealybug species, Pseudococcus calceolariae and Planococcus citri, as well as determine if those hybrids have parental male contribution, in order to understand the mating system of these species.
The citrus mealybug, Planococcus citri (Hemiptera, Pseudococcidae) is an important pest for which ecological sound management tactics are being considered. As so, it is fundamental to study its reproductive biology. It was found that, in laboratory conditions, males of another mealybug species, Pseudococcus calceolariae, readily mate with females of P. citri, originating interspecific hybrids that are fertile and that have a phenotype similar to P.citri. This system allows the study of polyandry in citrus mealybug by analysing, with the adequate molecular markers, the progeny of females CM alternately exposed to males of P. calceolariae and P. citri for successive mating events.
This work is supported by an FCT project lead by Instituto Superior de Agronomia: “Mealybug reproductive biology and pheromone-mediated interactions: a basis to develop ecological sound management tactics for pest mealybugs” (PTDC/AGR-AAM/099560/2008)