Insects are among the largest taxonomic animal groups on Earth. In some cases, their interactions with humans can be harmful and the knowledge of the lifecycle of insect species, e.g. disease vectors and agricultural pests, opens new chances to develop eco-sustainable control strategies, alternative to pesticides.

Reproduction and sex determination are at the same time crucial aspects to understand insect biology and optimal targets to limit their population growth and diffusion.

The main objective of this research project is to apply new integrative approaches to the study of sex determination in two hematophagous dipteran non-model species: Aedes albopictus and Phlebotomus perniciosus.

We propose a transcriptomic approach, based on the more recent massive parallel sequencing technology and bioinformatics, to start to clarify sex determination of the two species and to start to understand the genetic structure of the populations present in the Campania region.

The selected target genes involved in sex determination and sex-specific behavior could be used to develop innovative biotech approaches to control the natural populations of Ae. albopictus and P. perniciosus.

The results produced during this start-up project will be utilized to support a future ERC application for the study at regional level of the populations of the two species using a comparative genomic approach, that will permit also to survey the presence and distribution of parasites and viruses in vector populations of the Campania region.