Tracking seasonal changes over the year is of particular importance for some insects to overwinter. It allows them to anticipate harsh environmental conditions which they can survive by undergoing a physiological state called diapause.
Evidences of the presence of a photoperiodic clock that controls diapause induction are also suggesting the implication of the circadian clock. So far, the interconnection between these two timing mechanisms is not well understood in insects, also/mainly because unfortunately our favourite model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, shows a shallow photoperiodic diapause phenotype.
My project is trying to understand the basis of photoperiodic and circadian timing in insect species that are known to posses a strong photoperiodic diapause response like the firebug Pyrrhocoris apterus and the fly Chymomyza costata at the neurobiological and molecular level.
I am also working in the characterization of the circadian clock in two pest species for agricultural crops that are the olive fly Bactrocera oleae and the medfly Ceratitis capitata.