San Michele Mondovì, Italy
San Michele Mondovì, Italy

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Manica M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Manica M.,Centro Ricerca e Innovazione | Rosa R.,Centro Ricerca e Innovazione | della Torre A.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Caputo B.,University of Rome La Sapienza
PeerJ | Year: 2017

Background. Aedes albopictus is an aggressive invasive mosquito species that represents a serious health concern not only in tropical areas, but also in temperate regions due to its role as vector of arboviruses. Estimates of mosquito biting rates are essential to account for vector-human contact in models aimed to predict the risk of arbovirus autochthonous transmission and outbreaks, as well as nuisance thresholds useful for correct planning of mosquito control interventions. Methods targeting daytime and outdoor biting Ae. albopictus females (e.g., Human Landing Collection, HLC) are expensive and difficult to implement in large scale schemes. Instead, egg-collections by ovitraps are the most widely used routine approach for large-scale monitoring of the species. The aim of this work was to assess whether ovitrap data can be exploited to estimate numbers of adult biting Ae. albopictus females and whether the resulting relationship could be used to build risk models helpful for decision-makers in charge of planning of mosquito-control activities in infested areas. Method. Ovitrap collections and HLCs were carried out in hot-spots of Ae. albopictus abundance in Rome (Italy) along a whole reproductive season. The relationship between the two sets of data was assessed by generalized least square analysis, taking into account meteorological parameters. Result. The mean number of mosquito females/person collected by HLC in 150 (i.e., females/HLC) and the mean number of eggs/day were 18.9 ± 0.7 and 39.0 ± 2.0, respectively. The regression models found a significant positive relationship between the two sets of data and estimated an increase of one biting female/person every five additional eggs found in ovitraps. Both observed and fitted values indicated presence of adults in the absence of eggs in ovitraps. Notably, wide confidence intervals of estimates of biting females based on eggs were observed. The patterns of exotic arbovirus outbreak probability obtained by introducing these estimates in risk models were similar to those based on females/HLC (R0 > 1 in 86% and 40% of sampling dates for Chikungunya and Zika, respectively; R0 < 1 along the entire season for Dengue). Moreover, the model predicted that in this case-study scenario an R0 > 1 for Chikungunya is also to be expected when few/no eggs/day are collected by ovitraps. Discussion. This work provides the first evidence of the possibility to predict mean number of adult biting Ae. albopictus females based on mean number of eggs and to compute the threshold of eggs/ovitrap associated to epidemiological risk of arbovirus transmission in the study area. Overall, however, the large confidence intervals in the model predictions represent a caveat regarding the reliability of monitoring schemes based exclusively on ovitrap collections to estimate numbers of biting females and plan control interventions. © 2017 Manica et al.

PubMed | Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, University of Florence, Centro Ricerca e Innovazione, Fondazione FiorGen Onlus Firenze and University of Padua
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in plant science | Year: 2016

The ripening physiology of detached fruit is altered by low oxygen conditions with profound effects on quality parameters. To study hypoxia-related processes and regulatory mechanisms, apple (Malus domestica, cv Granny Smith) fruit, harvested at commercial ripening, were kept at 1C under normoxic (control) and hypoxic (0.4 and 0.8 kPa oxygen) conditions for up to 60 days. NMR analyses of cortex tissue identified eight metabolites showing significantly different accumulations between samples, with ethanol and alanine displaying the most pronounced difference between hypoxic and normoxic treatments. A rapid up-regulation of alcohol dehydrogenase and pyruvate-related metabolism (lactate dehydrogenase, pyruvate decarboxylase, alanine aminotransferase) gene expression was detected under both hypoxic conditions with a more pronounced effect induced by the lowest (0.4 kPa) oxygen concentration. Both hypoxic conditions negatively affected ACC synthase and ACC oxidase transcript accumulation. Analysis of RNA-seq data of samples collected after 24 days of hypoxic treatment identified more than 1000 genes differentially expressed when comparing 0.4 vs. 0.8 kPa oxygen concentration samples. Genes involved in cell-wall, minor and major CHO, amino acid and secondary metabolisms, fermentation and glycolysis as well as genes involved in transport, defense responses, and oxidation-reduction appeared to be selectively affected by treatments. The lowest oxygen concentration induced a higher expression of transcription factors belonging to AUX/IAA, WRKY, HB, Zinc-finger families, while MADS box family genes were more expressed when apples were kept under 0.8 kPa oxygen. Out of the eight group VII ERF members present in apple genome, two genes showed a rapid up-regulation under hypoxia, and western blot analysis showed that apple MdRAP2.12 proteins were differentially accumulated in normoxic and hypoxic samples, with the highest level reached under 0.4 kPa oxygen. These data suggest that ripe apple tissues finely and specifically modulate sensing and regulatory mechanisms in response to different hypoxic stress conditions.

PubMed | Roskilde University, Evolva SA, TU Darmstadt and Centro Ricerca e Innovazione
Type: | Journal: Metabolic engineering | Year: 2016

Dihydrochalcones are plant secondary metabolites comprising molecules of significant commercial interest as antioxidants, antidiabetics, or sweeteners. To date, their heterologous biosynthesis in microorganisms has been achieved only by precursor feeding or as minor by-products in strains engineered for flavonoid production. Here, the native ScTSC13 was overexpressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to increase its side activity in reducing p-coumaroyl-CoA to p-dihydrocoumaroyl-CoA. De novo production of phloretin, the first committed dihydrochalcone, was achieved by co-expression of additional relevant pathway enzymes. Naringenin, a major by-product of the initial pathway, was practically eliminated by using a chalcone synthase from barley with unexpected substrate specificity. By further extension of the pathway from phloretin with decorating enzymes with known specificities for dihydrochalcones, and by exploiting substrate flexibility of enzymes involved in flavonoid biosynthesis, de novo production of the antioxidant molecule nothofagin, the antidiabetic molecule phlorizin, the sweet molecule naringin dihydrochalcone, and 3-hydroxyphloretin was achieved.

PubMed | University of Turku, University of Piemonte Orientale, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich and 3 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Molecular plant | Year: 2016

Plants need tight regulation of photosynthetic electron transport for survival and growth under environmental and metabolic conditions. For this purpose, the linear electron transport (LET) pathway is supplemented by a number of alternative electron transfer pathways and valves. In Arabidopsis, cyclic electron transport (CET) around photosystem I (PSI), which recycles electrons from ferrodoxin to plastoquinone, is the most investigated alternative route. However, the interdependence of LET and CET and the relative importance of CET remain unclear, largely due to the difficulties in precise assessment of the contribution of CET in the presence of LET, which dominates electron flow under physiological conditions. We therefore generated Arabidopsis mutants with a minimal water-splitting activity, and thus a low rate of LET, by combining knockout mutations in PsbO1, PsbP2, PsbQ1, PsbQ2, and PsbR loci. The resulting 5 mutant is viable, although mature leaves contain only 20% of wild-type naturally less abundant PsbO2 protein. 5 plants compensate for the reduction in LET by increasing the rate of CET, and inducing a strong non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) response during dark-to-light transitions. To identify the molecular origin of such a high-capacity CET, we constructed three sextuple mutants lacking the qE component of NPQ (5 npq4-1), NDH-mediated CET (5 crr4-3), or PGR5-PGRL1-mediated CET (5 pgr5). Their analysis revealed that PGR5-PGRL1-mediated CET plays a major role in pH formation and induction of NPQ in C3 plants. Moreover, while pgr5 dies at the seedling stage under fluctuating light conditions, 5 pgr5 plants are able to survive, which underlines the importance of PGR5 in modulating the intersystem electron transfer.

Rosa R.,Centro Ricerca e Innovazione | Marini G.,Centro Ricerca e Innovazione | Bolzoni L.,Centro Ricerca e Innovazione | Bolzoni L.,Instituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dellEmilia Romagna | And 10 more authors.
Parasites and Vectors | Year: 2014

Background: West Nile Virus (WNV) is an emerging global health threat. Transmission risk is strongly related to the abundance of mosquito vectors, typically Culex pipiens in Europe. Early-warning predictors of mosquito population dynamics would therefore help guide entomological surveillance and thereby facilitate early warnings of transmission risk. Methods. We analysed an 11-year time series (2001 to 2011) of Cx. pipiens mosquito captures from the Piedmont region of north-western Italy to determine the principal drivers of mosquito population dynamics. Linear mixed models were implemented to examine the relationship between Cx. pipiens population dynamics and environmental predictors including temperature, precipitation, Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) and the proximity of mosquito traps to urban areas and rice fields. Results: Warm temperatures early in the year were associated with an earlier start to the mosquito season and increased season length, and later in the year, with decreased abundance. Early precipitation delayed the start and shortened the length of the mosquito season, but increased total abundance. Conversely, precipitation later in the year was associated with a longer season. Finally, higher NDWI early in the year was associated with an earlier start to the season and increased season length, but was not associated with abundance. Proximity to rice fields predicted higher total abundance when included in some models, but was not a significant predictor of phenology. Proximity to urban areas was not a significant predictor in any of our models. Predicted variations in start of the season and season length ranged from one to three weeks, across the measured range of variables. Predicted mosquito abundance was highly variable, with numbers in excess of 1000 per trap per year when late season temperatures were low (average 21°C) to only 150 when late season temperatures were high (average 30°C). Conclusions: Climate data collected early in the year, in conjunction with local land use, can be used to provide early warning of both the timing and magnitude of mosquito outbreaks. This potentially allows targeted mosquito control measures to be implemented, with implications for prevention and control of West Nile Virus and other mosquito borne diseases. © 2014 Rosà et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

PubMed | University of Tirana, Instituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dellEmilia Romagna, Institute Pasteur Paris, University of Rome La Sapienza and 3 more.
Type: | Journal: Parasites & vectors | Year: 2016

In the last decades, Aedes albopictus has become an increasing public health threat in tropical as well as in more recently invaded temperate areas due to its capacity to transmit several human arboviruses, among which Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika. Enhancing the efficiency of currently used collection approaches, such as ovitraps and sticky traps, is desirable for optimal monitoring of the species abundance, for assessment of the risk of arbovirus transmission and for the optimisation of control activities.Two sets of 44 Latin-square experiments were carried out in Tirana (Albania) to test whether modifications in ovitrap shape and size and in oviposition substrate would increase collections of Ae. albopictus eggs and whether hay-infusion would increase adult catches by sticky trap. Generalized Linear Mixed Models with negative binomial error distribution were carried out to analyse the data. Cylindrical ovitraps lined with germination paper yielded significantly higher egg catches than those exploiting either the (commonly used) wooden paddles or floating polystyrene blocks as oviposition substrates. No difference was observed between cylindrical and conical shaped ovitraps. Ovitraps and sticky traps baited with hay infusion yielded significantly higher egg and adult catches than un-baited ones. A significant relationship between ovitrap and sticky trap catches was observed both in the absence and in the presence of attractants, with ovitrap catches increasing more than sticky trap catches at increasing adult female densities.This study provides grounds for optimisation of ovitraps and sticky traps as monitoring tools for Ae. albopictus by (i) supporting use of germination paper as most appropriate oviposition substrate; (ii) suggesting the possible use of stackable conical ovitraps for large scale monitoring; (iii) confirming the use of hay-infusion to increase egg catches in ovitraps, and showing that hay-infusion also significant increases adult catches by sticky traps.

Cottarelli V.,University of Tuscia | Bruno M.C.,Centro Ricerca e Innovazione | Spena M.T.,University of Catania | Grasso R.,University of Catania
Zoological Studies | Year: 2012

This paper presents and discusses the copepod fauna collected from several rimstone pools in Conza Cave (Palermo, Sicily). The geology, lithology, and hydrology of the cave suggest that all of the copepods collected in the pools were dislodged from the epikarst and were carried by dripping water into the pools. The copepod fauna included the first record for Sicily of the Italian endemic stygobiotic cyclopoid Speocyclops italicus, the 1st cave Parastenocarididae of Sicily Parastenocaris diversitatis sp. nov., and the stygobiotic Canthocamptidae Bryocamptus (Rheocamptus) stillae sp. nov. Remarks on the ecology and biology of the collected taxa are presented and discussed.

De La Puente J.M.,CSIC - Doñana Biological Station | Munoz J.,CSIC - Doñana Biological Station | Capelli G.,Viale dellUniversita | Montarsi F.,Viale dellUniversita | And 4 more authors.
Malaria Journal | Year: 2015

Background: The invasive Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus has dramatically expanded its distribution range, being catalogued as one of the world's 100 worst invasive alien species. As vectors of pathogens, Ae. albopictus may create novel epidemiological scenarios in the invaded areas. Methods: Here, the frequency of encounters of Ae. albopictus with the avian malaria parasite Plasmodium and the related Haemoproteus was studied in an area with established populations in northeastern Italy and compared with those from four native mosquito species, Anopheles maculipennis s.l., Culex hortensis, Culex pipiens, and Ochlerotatus caspius. The abdomens of mosquitoes with a recent blood meal were used to identify both the blood meal source and the parasites harboured. Results: Aedes albopictus had a clear antropophilic behaviour while An. maculipennis and Oc. caspius fed mainly on non-human mammals. Birds were the most common hosts of Cx. pipiens and reptiles of Cx. hortensis. Parasites were isolated from three mosquito species, with Cx. pipiens (30%) showing the highest parasite prevalence followed by Cx. hortensis (9%) and Ae. albopictus (5%). Conclusions: These results are the first identifying the avian malaria parasites harboured by mosquitoes in Italy and represent the first evidence supporting that, although Ae. albopictus could be involved in the transmission of avian malaria parasites, the risk of avian malaria parasite spread by this invasive mosquito in Europe would be minimal. © 2015 Martínez-de la Puente et al.

Caputo B.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Ienco A.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Manica M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Petrarca V.,University of Rome La Sapienza | And 2 more authors.
Parasites and Vectors | Year: 2015

Background: Urban mosquitoes in temperate regions may represent a high nuisance and are associated with the risk of arbovirus transmission. Common practices to reduce this burden, at least in Italian highly infested urban areas, imply calendar-based larvicide treatments of street catch basins - which represent the main non-removable urban breeding site - and/or insecticide ground spraying. The planning of these interventions, as well as the evaluation of their effectiveness, rarely benefit of adequate monitoring of the mosquito abundance and dynamics. We propose the use of adhesive traps to monitor Aedes albopictus and Culex pipiens adults and to evaluate the efficacy of insecticide-based control strategies. Methods: We designed two novel types of adhesive traps to collect adult mosquitoes visiting and/or emerging from catch basins. The Mosquito Emerging Trap (MET) was exploited to assess the efficacy of larvicide treatments. The Catch Basin Trap (CBT) was exploited together with the Sticky Trap (ST, commonly used to collect ovipositing/resting females) to monitor adults abundance in the campus of the University of Rome "Sapienza" - where catch basins were treated with Insect Growth Regulators (IGR) bi-monthly and Low-Volume insecticide spraying were carried out before sunset - and in a nearby control area. Results: Results obtained by MET showed that, although all monitored diflubenzuron-treated catch basins were repeatedly visited by Ae. albopictus and Cx. pipiens, adult emergence was inhibited in most basins. Results obtained by ST and CBT showed a significant lower adult abundance in the treated area than in the untreated one after the second adulticide spraying, which was carried out during the major phase of Ae. albopictus population expansion in Rome. Spatial heterogeneities in the effect of the treatments were also revealed. Conclusions: The results support the potential of the three adhesive traps tested in passively monitoring urban mosquito adult abundance and seasonal dynamics and in assessing the efficacy of control measures. ST showed higher specificity for Ae. albopictus and CBT for Cx. pipiens. The results also provide a preliminary indication on the effectiveness of common mosquito control strategies carried out against urban mosquito in European urban areas. © 2015 Caputo et al.; licensee BioMed Central.

PubMed | University of Pavia and Centro Ricerca e Innovazione
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of basic microbiology | Year: 2016

Periglacial areas are one of the least studied habitats on Earth, especially in terms of their fungal communities. In this work, both molecular and culture-dependent methods have been used to analyse the microfungi in soils sampled on the front of the East Dosd Glacier (Valtellina, Northern Italy). Although this survey revealed a community that was rich in fungal species, a distinct group of psychrophilic microfungi has not been detected. Most of the isolated microfungi were mesophiles, which are well adapted to the sensitive climatic changes that occur in this alpine environment. A discrepancy in the results that were obtained by means of the two diagnostic approaches suggests that the used molecular methods cannot entirely replace traditional culture-dependent methods, and vice versa.

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