University of Insubria - Department of Theoretical and Applied Sciences (DiSTA)  


Lab Members

Maurizio F. Brivio PhD
Head of Lab 
Maristella Mastore 
Scientific Technician
Sara Caramella
Alberto Rezzonico

Our research

The aim of our studies is to understand the interactions between organisms/microorganisms used in the biological control and insect models
potentially harmful to the environment.

Many species of insects (phytophagous) damage crops and urban greenery, others represent a real danger to human and animal health (vectors);
in both cases, the main form of containment and elimination of dangerous species is, even today, the use of pesticides.

In our lab we investigate the immune defenses of insects infected by parasites or bacteria conventionally used as bioinsecticides as well as the
effects of environmental temperature changes on these processes.

The host immune responses are monitored in both naive and infected/parasitized insect larvae, with or without priming or immunomodulatory
drugs administration.

Some animal models we are using are Galleria mellonella (Lepidoptera, parasite of the hives), the spotted wings Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii),
 the choleoptera Red Palm Weevil (Rynchophorous ferrugineus) and the biotransformer Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens (diptera).

Deepening the knowledge of host-parasite relations (insects-bioinsecticides) provides the fundamental basis for the improvement of biological
control methods, methods that if used correctly, will allow a significant reduction in the use of pesticides.

Particularly, we are studying:
  • Insect humoral Immune responses such as: proPO system, Lysozyme and AMPs modulation.
  • Insect cell-mediated responses, such as phagocytosis and encapsulation.
  • Compounds isolated from parasites and pathogenic bacteria involved in evasion and depression of host immunity.
  • Effects of temperature on phatogenicity and potential correlation with immune responses.
  • Role of insect's stress proteins (HSPs) after induced physiological alteration.

Publications   Photos  

          Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Sciences (DiSTA) - University of Insubria - via J.H. Dunant 3. 21100 Varese (Italy)