Control strategies for insect pests and vectors

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
AGR/11 VET/06
Learning objectives
The aim of the course is to provide students with knowledge on problems related to the control of phytophagous insects and of vectors of borne diseases, deepening the concept of integrated pest control and illustrating the main biotechnological approaches for insect pest management.
Expected learning outcomes
Students will be able to communicate with pertinent scientific language, even to non-specialized people, the main insect control strategies, including those based on new biotechnological methods. The student, thanks to the acquired knowledge, will be able to discuss on the types of damage inflicted by different phytophagous categories, on the consequences of vector borne diseases and on the most appropriate solutions that can be adopted to control these insects, respecting the environment and ecosystems.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Teaching methods
The course is held in the second semester. If the emergency phase continued, in compliance with the regulations, the lessons would take place remotely in both synchronous (on the Zoom platform) and asynchronous (audio lessons in ppt). Lesson recordings will be available on the Ariel website of the course. The synchronous lessons will allow students to maintain a direct contact with the teachers and give the opportunity to have clarifications on the topics covered. A forum will also be organized on the Ariel website of the course to facilitate interaction among students and teachers, which of course can be contacted via email, too. All the information regarding the organization of the course, the synchronous and asynchronous lessons, the hours dedicated to question time, as well as any other updates are provided on the Ariel website of the course.

Program and reference materials
The program and the reference material will not change with respect to what is indicated in the syllabus.

Exam and evaluation criteria
As indicated in the syllabus, the exam consists in an oral interview. The information regarding the exam (in the presence, in compliance with the regulations, remotely, through the Zoom platform) is made available on the Ariel website of the course. The evaluation criteria will not change and are those reported in the syllabus.
Course syllabus
The course, after a brief introduction on the main morphofunctional features of insects, will describe the strategies to control phytophagous insects and insect vector borne disease.
Control of phytophagous insects:
- damages caused by phytophagous insects and their classification
- evolution of strategies to control insect pest
- chemical control
- biological control
- the concept of integrated pest management
- insect-plant interactions
- interaction between insects and their natural enemies and molecules from enemies with potential for pest control
- interaction between insects and entomopathogenic microorganisms: microbial control and use of recombinant entomopathogens
- transgenic plants
- RNAi-mediated control of crop pest
- the development of insect resistance to control methods
Control of insects, vectors of diseases:
- arthropod vectors of public health importance: general introduction on diseases and their vectors (mosquitoes, sandflies, fleas, triatomines, tse-tse flies, ticks)
- chemical control strategies: insecticides; problems of economic and environmental sustainability, the resistance. Strategies to increase insecticide activity and complementary strategies
- biological control strategies: bacteria that express toxins or killer bacteria; bacteria that induce cytoplasmic incompatibility or that reduce vectorial capacity
- environmental control strategies: strategies to reduce exposure to vectors and vector-borne pathogens
- biotechnological control: GMO insects and "gene-drive systems" mediated by CRISPR-CAS9; paratransgenesis; sterile insect technique
- social impact of diseases transmitted by insects. Short historical overview of successes.
Prerequisites for admission
Mandatory preparatory courses are not required, but good knowledge of general entomology is strongly recommended
Teaching methods
The course includes lectures and seminars
Teaching Resources
Textbook: "Gli insetti e il loro controllo" a cura di F. Pennacchio, Liguori Editore.
Additional materials (slides, articles and reviews) will be made available to students on the Ariel platform.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The students have to pass an oral exam. The final evaluation will take into account the level of knowledge and understanding of the main strategies to control insect pest and vectors and the new biocontrol techniques that are being studied/developed, as well as the ability to apply the knowledge acquired during the course to case studies.
AGR/11 - GENERAL AND APPLIED ENTOMOLOGY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 48 hours
Friday from 2.30 PM by appointment
Department of Biosciences, via Celoria 26, ground floor, B tower