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Cristina Crava

Maria Cristina Crava





Affiliation: University of Valencia. BIOTECMED

Fields or areas of research Entomology, Molecular Biology, Ecological Chemistry

I am a biotechnologist with twelve years of professional experience in the fields of entomology, invertebrate pathology, and chemical ecology. I have co-authored 20 peer reviewed scientific articles, and I am the first author of 12 of them. The results of my work have been presented at 22 international conferences and 11 national conferences.

My career began with the master degree obtained at the Universitá degli Studi of Milan (Italy) that allowed me to start a PhD program at the University of Valencia. During my PhD research, ended in 2013 and partially carried out in the USA at the University of Tennessee, I studied the mechanism of action of the bacterial Cry proteins, produced by Bacillus thuringiensis, in the target insects. After defending PhD dissertation, I moved to the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology of Jena (Germany), where I worked under the supervision of prof. Ian T. Baldwin. My results illustrated for the first time the transfer of phytohormones from phytophagous insects to the host plants, to manipulate the nutritional content of the leaves. My second postdoctoral experience was at the Fondazione Edmund Mach of San Michele all'Adige (Italy), where I was interested in insect chemoperception. My project was funded by a Marie Curie –IEF grant to decipher the smell of the fruit fly Drosophila suzukii. During a third postdoctoral at the Universitá degli Studi of Pavia (Italy), I collaborated with Mariangela Bonizzoni's group in a genome-wide study that revealed how viral insertions are frequent in the genome of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and how they are part of an adaptive antiviral mechanism. In 2019 I obtained a Juan de la Cierva - Incorporation grant that allowed me to return to Valencia and after nine months, I became a CDEIGENT researcher.

My current research interests encompass tritrophic relationships between Lepidoptera, entomopathogens, and host plants. I use a multidisciplinary approach that combine molecular biology and microbiology tools with bioinformatics and behavioral assays in order to investigate how infections influence insect ability to track odors. I am also interested to study the role in antiviral immunity of viral insertions from RNA viruses in the genome of species of the lepidopteran genus Spodoptera.

People associated with the project as technical support staff: 1