My name is Flavio Preti and I am originally from Turin, Italy. I completed my undergraduate degree (BScH Biology) at Saint Mary’s University and I came to the University of Alberta for my MSc degree in 2018.
I have been passionate about insects and the preservation of natural habitats since I was a kid; I used to capture and play with praying mantises in my backyard! This passion has led me to the fascinating world of research. During my undergraduate degree I worked on the transmission of pathogens via intraguild predation of natural control agents; specifically, I focused on the effects of the microsporidium Nosema adeliae (natural pathogen of the two spotted ladybird, Adaliae bipunctata) on the Chinese praying mantis (Tenodera sinensis).
I came to the Evenden lab to further expand my knowledge and integrate chemical ecology and electro-physiology to my research. My MSc project focuses on determining how sub-lethal infection with a parasite influences host-forest tent caterpillar (FTC, Malacosoma disstriae) interaction. Microsporidia, an obligate intracellular parasite, will be used for this project as a source of chronic disease in forest tent caterpillars. Infected insects often exhibit delayed development, reduced size and activity levels, deformed pupae and adults, and lowered fecundity. These known effects may contribute to natural pest control of forest tent caterpillar in aspen stands. I will manipulate the infection in FTC larvae to test the effect of microsporidia on feeding behaviour, food utilization, development time, and adult life history traits such as longevity and reproductive potential. This will provide baseline data on the potential interaction between infection and herbivory in this important component of the boreal forest.
For more information on my research you can reach me at email@example.com