Biological control and natural biomolecules

Rearing and molecular characterization of natural enemies populations (Psyttalia concolor and Orius laevigatus).


Setting up of the rearing methods for the above-cited beneficials  and establishing release (inoculative and inundative) methods in the field. Optimization of protocols for the genetic characterization of Psyttalia concolor populations via molecular biology by developing molecular markers (SCAR) and microsatellites.

Starting: 2.01.2001
Scheduled ending: 30.12.2009
Real ending: 23.09.2019


Trials of inoculative and inundative releases in the open field for the control of the olive fly and of the grapevine flower thrips. Defining the role and the importance of the reared insect, setting up a database relating to the genetic characterization of P. concolorpopulations providing a basic knowledge on the genetic variability, monitoring the dynamics of genotypes and discriminating between the populations which cannot be morphologically distinguished. 



The evaluation of the real efficacy of a beneficial released in the open field is crucial for the biological control. The performance of reared beneficials in the field is lower than in the laboratory conditions. At present, the evaluation is based on the levels of parasitization or predation reckoned after their release. However, it fails to discriminate between the action of the beneficial released and that of the native population which is already present in the filed. This activity has enabled to genetically characterize  P.concolor populations for the control of Bactrocera oleae. The morphological discrimination between the strains reared in the lab and the wild populations is impossible. Hence, molecular techniques based on the genetic resources of individuals is the only successful discriminating method. This result was achieved through the use of molecular markers.


Research on Orius and on Psyttalia has allowed transferring strategies for the control of these pests to table grapes- and olive-growing farms. This activity will help defining the role of Psyttalia concolor (reared or native) in the parasitization of the olive agrosystem.




    • Strengths

The research is casting light on the use of these beneficial insects outdoors with a view to improving the control of olive and table grapes pests in the Mediterranean basin.

    • Weaknesses

This research showed how difficult it is to find every year native populations of Psyttalia concolor for the purpose of their characterization.  

Reference person/s: Simeone Vito /
Collaborators: Cesari Gianluigi / Lamaj Flutura / Yaseen Thaer /
Institutions involved:
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