Francesco Nazzi

University of Udine, Udine, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

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Publications (42)92.28 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The negative impacts of pesticides, in particular insecticides, on bees and other pollinators have never been disputed. Insecticides can directly kill these vital insects, whereas herbicides reduce the diversity of their food resources, thus indirectly affecting their survival and reproduction. At sub-lethal level (< LD50), neurotoxic insecticide molecules are known to influence the cognitive abilities of bees, impairing their performance and ultimately impacting on the viability of the colonies. In addition, widespread systemic insecticides appear to have introduced indirect side effects on both honey bees and wild bumblebees, by deeply affecting their health. Immune suppression of the natural defences by neonicotinoid and phenyl-pyrazole (fipronil) insecticides opens the way to parasite infections and viral diseases, fostering their spread among individuals and among bee colonies at higher rates than under conditions of no exposure to such insecticides. This causal link between diseases and/or parasites in bees and neonicotinoids and other pesticides has eluded researchers for years because both factors are concurrent: while the former are the immediate cause of colony collapses and bee declines, the latter are a key factor contributing to the increasing negative impact of parasitic infections observed in bees in recent decades.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Environment International
  • Francesco Nazzi · Yves Le Conte
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    ABSTRACT: Varroa destructor is the most important ectoparasite of Apis mellifera. This review addresses the interactions between the varroa mite, its environment, and the honey bee host, mediated by an impressive number of cues and signals, including semiochemicals regulating crucial steps of the mite's life cycle. Although mechanical stimuli, temperature, and humidity play an important role, chemical communication is the most important channel. Kairomones are used at all stages of the mite's life cycle, and the exploitation of bees' brood pheromones is particularly significant given these compounds function as primer and releaser signals that regulate the social organization of the honey bee colony. V. destructor is a major problem for apiculture and the search for novel control methods is an essential task for researchers. A detailed study of the ecological interactions of V. destructor is a prerequisite for creating strategies to sustainably manage the parasite. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Entomology Volume 61 is January 07, 2016. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Annual Review of Entomology
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    ABSTRACT: The tick Ixodes ricinus (L.) is the most important vector of tick-borne zoonoses in Europe. Apart from factors related to human behavior, tick abundance is a major driver of the incidence of tick-borne diseases in a given area and related data represent critical information for promoting effective public health policies. The present study analyzed the relationship between different environmental factors and tick abundance in order to improve the understanding of I. ricinus autecology and develop spatial predictive models that can be implemented in tick-borne disease prevention strategies. Ticks were sampled in 27 sites over a four-year period and different environmental variables were studied. Five simple models were developed that explain a large part of variation in tick abundance. Precipitation seems to play the most important role, followed by temperature, woodland coverage, and solar radiation. Model equations obtained in this study may enable the spatial interpolation and extension of tick abundance predicted values to sites of the same area, in order to build regional predictive maps. They could also be useful for the validation of large-scale spatial predictive maps. © 2015 The Society for Vector Ecology.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Journal of Vector Ecology
  • Francesco Nazzi · Francesco Pennacchio
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    ABSTRACT: The widespread losses of honeybee colonies recorded over the past number of years in the northern hemisphere represent a major concern for the beekeeping industry and, more importantly, may have a severe impact on ecological services and biodiversity. There is now a general consensus about the multifactorial origin of colony losses, but the mechanistic basis of this complex phenomenon still remains largely elusive. In this review, we propose a functional framework for interpreting how different stress agents can interact to adversely affect bee immunity and health. This provides a new background rationale in which to develop an integrated approach to bee protection, as part of a more comprehensive strategy for the conservation of insect pollinators. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Trends in Parasitology
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    ABSTRACT: Honeybee colonies (Apis mellifera) host a number of parasites, among which the mite Varroa destructor has been implicated in colony losses recorded around the world in recent years. Although many studies have been carried out on the direct and indirect damage caused by the mite to its host, the possible influence of mite infestation on the in-hive behaviour of honeybees has received little attention so far; moreover, to our knowledge, no behavioural study has been performed on adult bees infested during the pupal stage, which is when the mite causes most of its detrimental effects. In order to assess any possible consequence of infestation on the in-hive behaviour of honeybees, we carried out detailed observations on adult bees artificially infested during the pupal stage. We recorded a higher proportion of inactive bees among the infested ones; moreover, we observed that infested bees are less involved in tending larvae and dealing with hive duties compared to their uninfested mates. These results allow to draw some hypotheses which could be tested using the infestation method presented here.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Apidologie
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    ABSTRACT: The decline of honeybee colonies and their eventual collapse is a widespread phenomenon in the Northern hemisphere of the globe, which severely limits the beekeeping industry. This dramatic event is associated with an enhanced impact of parasites and pathogens on honeybees, which is indicative of reduced immunocompetence. The parasitic mite Varroa destructor and the vectored viral pathogens appear to play a key-role in the induction of this complex syndrome. In particular, the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) is widespread and is now considered, along with Varroa, one of the major causes of bee colony losses. Several lines of evidence indicate that this mite/DWV association severely affects the immune system of honeybees and makes them more sensitive to the action of other stress factors. The molecular mechanisms underpinning these complex interactions are currently being investigated and the emerging information has allowed the development of a new functional model, describing how different stress factors may synergistically concur in the induction of bee immune alteration and health decline. This provides a new logical framework in which to interpret the proposed multifactorial origin of bee colony losses and sets the stage for a more comprehensive and integrated analysis of the effect that multiple stress agents may have on honeybees.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Support to small farmers is at the heart of the fight against poverty. However, the continuous provision of support poses a major challenge which greatly affects the sustainability of development-related projects. Using a research and education approach, in which beekeeping was introduced into the curriculum of two secondary schools, we tested the potential of knowledge transfer as a means of promoting beekeeping. In this paper, we show that, with an educational program tailored to the audience needs, knowledge transfer and self-start-ups ensure better sustainability than material support. We further discuss the implications of these results in the sustenance of beekeeping as a development-related activity.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Environment Development and Sustainability
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    Full-text · Dataset · Nov 2013
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    Full-text · Dataset · Nov 2013
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    Full-text · Dataset · Nov 2013
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    ABSTRACT: Large-scale losses of honey bee colonies represent a poorly understood problem of global importance. Both biotic and abiotic factors are involved in this phenomenon that is often associated with high loads of parasites and pathogens. A stronger impact of pathogens in honey bees exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides has been reported, but the causal link between insecticide exposure and the possible immune alteration of honey bees remains elusive. Here, we demonstrate that the neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin negatively modulates NF-κB immune signaling in insects and adversely affects honey bee antiviral defenses controlled by this transcription factor. We have identified in insects a negative modulator of NF-κB activation, which is a leucine-rich repeat protein. Exposure to clothianidin, by enhancing the transcription of the gene encoding this inhibitor, reduces immune defenses and promotes the replication of the deformed wing virus in honey bees bearing covert infections. This honey bee immunosuppression is similarly induced by a different neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, but not by the organophosphate chlorpyriphos, which does not affect NF-κB signaling. The occurrence at sublethal doses of this insecticide-induced viral proliferation suggests that the studied neonicotinoids might have a negative effect at the field level. Our experiments uncover a further level of regulation of the immune response in insects and set the stage for studies on neural modulation of immunity in animals. Furthermore, this study has implications for the conservation of bees, as it will contribute to the definition of more appropriate guidelines for testing chronic or sublethal effects of pesticides used in agriculture.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Summary In this article we provide guidelines on statistical design and analysis of data for all kinds of honey bee research. Guidelines and selection of different methods presented are, at least partly, based on experience. This article can be used: to identify the most suitable analysis for the type of data collected; to optimise one’s experimental design based on the experimental factors to be investigated, samples to be analysed, and the type of data produced; to determine how, where, and when to sample bees from colonies; or just to inspire. Also included are guidelines on presentation and reporting of data, as well as where to find help and which types of software could be useful. Guia estadistica para estudios en Apis mellifera Resumen En este trabajo se proporcionan directrices sobre el diseño estadístico y el análisis de datos para todo tipo de investigación sobre abejas. Tanto las directrices como la selección de los diferentes métodos que se presentan están basadas, al menos en parte, en la experiencia. Este artículo se puede utilizar: para identificar el análisis más adecuado para el tipo de datos recogidos; para optimizar el diseño experimental basado en los factores experimentales a ser investigados, las muestras a analizar, y el tipo de datos que se producen; para determinar cómo, dónde , y cuando muestras abejas de las colonias, o simplemente para inspirar. También se incluyen directrices para la presentación y comunicación de los datos, así como dónde encontrar ayuda y distintos software que puedan ser útiles. 西方蜜蜂研究的统计指南 摘要 在本文中,我们提供了针对蜜蜂所有研究的统计设计和数据分析指南。这些指南和方法的选择至少部分基于我们的经验。本文也可用于:针对收集到的数据类型选择最优分析方法;基于所研究的实验因素、待分析的样本和获得的数据类型优化实验设计;确定从蜂群中采集蜜蜂样本的地点、时间和方式;或者仅为实验提供参考。另外,也包含展示和报告数据时的指南,以及如何寻求帮助和选用何种软件。 Keywords: COLOSS, BEEBOOK, honey bees, sampling, sample size, GLMM, robust statistics, resampling, PCA, Power, rule of thumb
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Journal of Apicultural Research
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    ABSTRACT: This paper describes basic methods essential in elucidating chemically-mediated behavioural interactions among honey bees, and between honey bees and other arthropods. These range from bioassay methods used to demonstrate the role of specific behaviours, techniques and equipment used to collect and analyse semiochemicals (both volatiles and non-volatiles e.g. cuticular hydrocarbons) from individual honey bees, groups of bees or an entire colony in its native environments. This paper covers: collection and analysis of honey bee volatiles in the natural environment, collection and analysis of bee volatiles out of their natural environment and their antennal detection, collection and analysis of non-volatile cuticular hydrocarbons, bioassays with queen pheromone and finally a section focusing on in vitro bioassays as a tool for elucidation of mechanisms regulating pheromone gland activity.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2013
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    Simone Del Fabbro · Francesco Nazzi
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    ABSTRACT: Tick-borne zoonoses are considered as emerging diseases. Tick repellents represent an effective tool for reducing the risk of tick bite and pathogens transmission. Previous work demonstrated the repellent activity of the phenylpropanoid eugenol against Ixodes ricinus; here we investigate the relationship between molecular structure and repellency in a group of substances related to that compound. We report the biological activity of 18 compounds varying for the presence/number of several moieties, including hydroxyl and methoxy groups and carbon side-chain. Each compound was tested at different doses with a bioassay designed to measure repellency against individual tick nymphs. Both vapor pressure and chemical features of the tested compounds appeared to be related to repellency. In particular, the hydroxyl and methoxy groups as well as the side-chain on the benzene ring seem to play a role. These results are discussed in light of available data on chemical perception in ticks. In the course of the study new repellent compounds were identified; the biological activity of some of them (at least as effective as the "gold standard" repellent DEET) appears to be very promising from a practical point of view.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Very rapidly after Varroa destructor invaded apiaries of Apis mellifera, the devastating effect of this mite prompted an active research effort to understand and control this parasite. Over a few decades, varroa has spread to most countries exploiting A. mellifera. As a consequence, a large number of teams have worked with this organism, developing a diversity of research methods. Often different approaches have been followed to achieve the same goal. The diversity of methods made the results difficult to compare, thus hindering our understanding of this parasite. In this paper, we provide easy to use protocols for the collection, identification, diagnosis, rearing, breeding, marking and measurement of infestation rates and fertility of V. destructor. We also describe experimental protocols to study orientation and feeding of the mite, to infest colonies or cells and measure the mite’s susceptibility to acaricides. Where relevant, we describe which mite should be used for bioassays since their behaviour is influenced by their physiological state. We also give a method to determine the damage threshold above which varroa damages colonies. This tool is fundamental to be able to implement integrated control concepts. We have described pros and cons for all methods for the user to know which method to use under which circumstances. These methods could be embraced as standards by the community when designing and performing research on V. destructor.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Journal of Apicultural Research
  • Desiderato Annoscia · Fabio Del Piccolo · Francesco Nazzi
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    ABSTRACT: Several factors threaten the health of honeybees; among them the parasitic mite Varroa destructor and the Deformed Wing Virus play a major role. Recently, the dangerous interplay between the mite and the virus was studied in detail and the transition, triggered by mite feeding, from a benign covert infection to a devastating viral outbreak, characterized by an intense viral replication, associated with some characteristic symptoms, was described. In order to gain insight into the events preceding that crucial transition we carried out standardized lab experiments aiming at studying the effects of parasitization in asymptomatic bees to establish a relationship between such effects and bee mortality. It appears that parasitization alters the capacity of the honeybee to regulate water exchange; this, in turn, has severe effects on bee survival. These results are discussed in light of possible novel strategies aiming at mitigating the impact of the parasite on honeybee health.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Journal of insect physiology
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    ABSTRACT: Author Summary Honeybees are of capital importance for humans since crop production significantly depends upon pollination by these insects. In recent years, widespread collapses of honeybee colonies have been reported throughout the world; unfortunately, despite intense research efforts, the causal agents of such losses are not yet identified, although parasites seem to play a key-role. We combined molecular, field-longitudinal and theoretical approaches to describe the mechanistic basis and dynamical properties of collapse-causing interactions within the multi-parasite community infecting the honeybees. We found that the parasitic mite Varroa destructor can de-stabilise the within-host dynamics of Deformed wing virus (DWV), transforming a cryptic and vertically transmitted virus into a rapidly replicating killer. The de-stabilisation of DWV infection results from a widespread immunosuppression characterized by a strong down-regulation of a member of the gene family NF-κB. This gene family not only plays a central role in insect immunity, but is also involved in intricate cross-talks with a number of physiological and stress response pathways. This suggests that different stress factors may alter the critical balance between viral pathogens and host-defences, promoting intense viral replication in bees harbouring silent infections and subsequent colony collapse. The model we propose can potentially explain the multifactorial origin of bee losses.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · PLoS Pathogens
  • Francesco Nazzi · Norberto Milani · Igor Saccon
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    ABSTRACT: A simple laboratory assay was developed to evaluate substances and extracts for their repellent effect on the tick Ixodes ricinus L. The bioassay involved testing the locomotory activity of I. ricinus nymphs in a circular glass arena. The stimulus to be tested was applied onto the arena outside a circle line (4 cm diameter). One field-collected I. ricinus nymph was placed in the centre of the arena and the time spent before entering the treated area was compared with that recorded in suitable control experiments where no stimulus or the solvent alone was used. Apart from a DEETbased product that was used as a positive control, extracts of basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum L.) and leaves of various grasses were tested. The commercial DEET-product proved to be active and so was an acetone extract of basil leaves; the hexane extract of basil leaves and the acetone extract from leaves of mixed grasses had very little or no activity. The bioassay appeared to be suitable to assess the repellent activity of natural products. Basil seems to contain substances that are repellent to I. ricinus nymphs.
    No preview · Chapter · Jan 2011
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    ABSTRACT: A 2-year study was conducted in a mountainous area of northeast Italy to evaluate the occurrence and distribution of ticks, as well as to assess the prevalence of the spirochaete Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. All ticks collected were Ixodes ricinus L. (Parasitiformes: Ixodidae). In general, most nymphs and adult ticks were collected from April to July. Tick density was highly variable among sites; however, two areas with different infestation levels were recognized. Prevalences of B. burgdorferi s.l. in nymphal stages were rather variable between sites; overall the prevalence of infected nymphs in the whole area was slightly higher than 20%. The prevalence of B. burgdorferi s.l. in nymphs does not seem to be correlated with nymph density. The correlation between the incidence of Lyme borreliosis (reported human cases/1000 inhabitants/year) and Borrelia prevalence in nymphs was not significant, although a significant correlation was found between borreliosis incidence and nymph density.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2010 · Medical and Veterinary Entomology
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    ABSTRACT: The parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, is the most important threat for apiculture in most bee-keeping areas of the world. The mite is carried to the bee brood cell, where it reproduces, by a nurse bee; therefore the selection of the bee stage by the parasite could influence its reproductive success. This study investigates the role of the cuticular hydrocarbons of the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) in host-selection by the mite. Preliminary laboratory bioassays confirmed the preference of the varroa mite for nurse bees over pollen foragers. GC-MS analysis of nurse and pollen bees revealed differences in the cuticular hydrocarbons of the two stages; in particular, it appeared that pollen bees have more (Z)-8-heptadecene than nurse bees. Laboratory experiments showed that treatment of nurse bees with 100 ng of the pure compound makes them repellent to the varroa mite. These results suggest that the mite can exploit the differences in the cuticular composition of its host for a refined selection that allows it to reach a brood cell and start reproduction. The biological activity of the alkene encourages further investigations for the development of novel control techniques based on this compound.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2010 · Parasitology