Mariangela Bonizzoni
Mariangela Bonizzoni
affiliation: Università di Pavia
research area(s): Molecular Biology, Genetics And Genomics
Course: Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology
University/Istitution: Università di Pavia
In 1998 I started working in the field of molecular entomology, with a focus on agricultural pest species. I was able to secure my first founding in 2001 with a “Young Researcher Grant Program from the University of Pavia”. My project studied the reproductive behavior of the Mediterranean fruit fly, within the context of control strategies for this pest. The results obtained contradicted the widely-held belief that females are monogamous and helped explain the success of the Mediterranean fruit fly as an invasive pest species. I completed an Italian-French phD program financed by MIUR in 2004. During my phD, I studied medfly population genetics and transposable elements. After completing a one-year post-doc in Italy, I moved to the United States and worked from 2007 to 2014 at the University of California Irvine. At Irvine I worked on mosquitoes, such as the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae and the dengue vectors Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. In March 2015, I joined the Department of Biology and Biotechnology of the University of Pavia as associate professor of zoology. I am committed to continue the excellence in teaching and research of the University of Pavia.
A well known idiom dictates that “prevention is better than cure”. There are neither vaccines nor therapeutic treatments available for many mosquito-borne diseases. The only proven and consistent method of preventing transmission of the pathogens that cause these diseases is to act on the vectors by suppressing their contact to humans. Adapting vector control to the changing transmission landscape requires knowledge of various fields such as entomology, population genetics, taxonomy, molecular biology, chemistry and pharmacology.

My research agenda is guided by the above-mentioned idiom and aims at reducing the negative impact of insects on human health and economic development. I started my career working on economically important pest species of the Tephritidae family, mainly species of the genera Ceratitis and Bactrocera. I then became interested in insect vectors for human diseases and I worked on species of the genera Glossina, Anopheles and Aedes. My various research are listed below:

Population genetic analyses and studies of invasion/diffusion processes. Population genetic approaches are informative in the analyses of the genetic plasticity of an organism, in assessing its demographic history and in studying its spread. I characterized and applied molecular markers (microsatellites and single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) to understand the population genetic structure and the invasion/diffusion potentials of different economically- and public health-important insects.

insect transposable elements (TE) and transgenesis. Studies of the role of TEs in shaping the insect genomes and to assess their use for the generation of transgenic insects. I contributed in the characterization of TE in different arthropods.

insect Reproduction.
 I study the reproductive behavior of the agricultural pest, Ceratitis capitata, within the context of control strategies for this pest.

insecticide resistance in vectors. Insecticide resistance is recognized as one of the main obstacles in the malaria elimination/eradication agenda, to which the scientific community is working towards. An essential step in resistance management is the identification of reliable resistance monitoring tools such as markers for resistance. I study mechanisms of insecticide resistance in the malaria vector An. gambiae.

insect genomics and vector competence. I am interested in understanding the evolution and variability of vector competence of the dengue vectors Ae. aegypti and Aedes albopictus to dengue viruses. Vector competence is a complex phenotype with both genetic and environmental components. I used a transcriptomic approach through RNA-seq to analyze tissue-specific transcriptional response in different Ae. aegypti strains following a non-infectious and a dengue-infectious blood meal. Comparison of results from my study and previously published literature pictures a complex relationship between Ae. aegypti and dengue viruses, dependent on both mosquito strains and virus genotypes: similar pathways are elicited after infection in different mosquito strains, but there is great variability in specific genes. As a continuation of my work on vector competence, I am interested in understanding the biological relevance of insect-specific flavivirus infections in the dengue vectors.
1. Chen XG, Jiang X, Gu J, Xu M, Wu Y, et al. Genome sequence of the Asian Tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, reveals insights into its biology, genetics, and evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015; 112(44):E5907-E5915.

2. Bonizzoni M, Ochomo E, Dunn WA, Britton M, Afrane Y, et al. RNA-seq analyses of changes in the Anopheles gambiae transcriptome associated with resistance to pyrethroids in Kenya: identification of candidate-resistance genes andcandidate-resistance SNPs. Parasites & vectors. 2015; 8:474.

3. Evans BR, Gloria-Soria A, Hou L, McBride C, Bonizzoni M, et al. A Multipurpose,
High-Throughput Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism Chip for the Dengue and Yellow Fever Mosquito, Aedes aegypti. G3 (Bethesda, Md.). 2015; 5(5):711-8

4. Macias V, Coleman J, Bonizzoni M, James AA. piRNA pathway gene expression in the malaria vector mosquito Anopheles stephensi. Insect molecular biology. 2014; 23(5):579-86.

5. Bonizzoni M, Britton M, Marinotti O, Dunn WA, Fass J, et al. Probing functional polymorphisms in the dengue vector, Aedes aegypti. BMC genomics. 2013; 14:739.

6. Bonizzoni M, Gasperi G, Chen X, James AA. The invasive mosquito species Aedes
albopictus: current knowledge and future perspectives. Trends in parasitology. 2013; 29(9):460-8.

7. Zhong D, Lo E, Hu R, Metzger ME, Cummings R, et al. Genetic analysis of invasive Aedes albopictus populations in Los Angeles County, California and its potential public health impact. PloS one. 2013; 8(7):e68586.

8. Zhong D, Chang X, Zhou G, He Z, Fu F, et al. Relationship between knockdown resistance, metabolic detoxification and organismal resistance to pyrethroids in Anopheles sinensis. PloS one. 2013; 8(2):e55475.

9. Bonizzoni M, Dunn WA, Campbell CL, Olson KE, Marinotti O, et al. Complex modulation of the Aedes aegypti transcriptome in response to dengue virus infection. PloS one. 2012; 7(11):e50512.

10. Liu C, Mauk MG, Hart R, Bonizzoni M, Yan G, et al. A low-cost microfluidic chip for rapid genotyping of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. PloS one. 2012;7(8):e42222.

11. Bonizzoni M, Dunn WA, Campbell CL, Olson KE, Marinotti O, et al. Strain Variation in the Transcriptome of the Dengue Fever Vector, Aedes aegypti. G3 (Bethesda, Md.). 2012; 2(1):103-14.

12. Bonizzoni M, Afrane Y, Dunn WA, Atieli FK, Zhou G, et al. Comparative transcriptome analyses of deltamethrin-resistant and -susceptible Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes from Kenya by RNA-Seq. PloS one. 2012; 7(9):e44607.
No projects are available to students for the current accademic year.