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For his PhD, Thomas studies the evolution and speciation of Essigella, an aphid genus found on conifers, especially true pines. All the species are North American, but one, Essigella californica (Essig), is now established in several other countries causing significant loss in plantations. Among other methods, Thomas uses mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data, as well as that of the obligate bacterial symbiont, Buchnera aphidicola (Wikipedia).
Elisée Emmanuel DABRÉ
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) form a symbiosis with nearly 80% of plant species in a win-win partnership; they are sometimes used as living fertilizers in agricultural systems because of their effects on plant growth and nutrition. By modifying the physiology and chemistry of plants, the fungus can indirectly influence higher trophic levels, in particular the performance of phytophagous insects and their natural enemies (parasitoids and predators), pollinating insects, and more generally the composition of the insect community in ecosystems. Elisée’s PhD project is to measure the effects on insect diversity in an agricultural system inoculated with AMF. He will (i) make an inventory of insects on carrot and soybean inoculated with AMF in the field; (ii) evaluate the effects of AMF on the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura and (iii) assess the impact of AMF on ants and aphids mutualism through the quality of honeydew.
Adwa ABDOU ALI
Date palm cultivation is a national agricultural priority in Djibouti but, new palm plantations have been subject to a growing number of pest species of insects and mites. Adwa’s PhD project seeks to evaluate and inventory the insect fauna of Djibouti’s date palms. She will then seek to understand the taxonomy, biology, and effects of an important pest of the planthopper genus Ommatissus.