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Maria Sousa

Maria Sousa
PhD student Chemical Ecology group, Department of Plant Protection Biology


My PhD project focus on the biologic control of Ips typographus. The bark beetle, Ips typographus, is a severe insect pest on mature Norway spruce (Picea abies). When the weather and local forest conditions are favorable, their population can increase and infest/kill large areas of healthy mature standing spruce trees. During the infestation, the beetles construct galleries under the bark of the trees where they feed and reproduce. While constructing these galleries, the beetles also introduce a blue-staining fungi that disseminates through the wood reducing the quality of the timber.

I am studying one group of bark beetle’s natural enemies, namely the long legged flies (Dolichopodidae) from Medetera genus. The flies have been suggested to be one of the most important biological control agent of bark beetles. The fly females identify a tree under bark beetle attack from a distance. After landing, they ”scan” the surface searching for bark beetle galleries. The females oviposit their eggs at the entrances of bark beetle galleries and the enclosed larvae goes into the bark beetle larval galleries, where they predate on the bark beetle brood during their development.

The aim of my PhD studies is to understand a bit more the behavior of these predators and how they can be used as biological agent to reduce attacks of bark beetles. I am are currently identifying which odours are used by the fly adults to detect the trees that are being infected by the bark beetles. And in the future I would like to develop an attractive bait in order to monitor Medetera populations and to attract enough flies to areas were new bark beetles attacks are starting making their outbreaks to collapse.



2016.01.11- 2017.03.05 - Research Assistant Institution: Microbial Horticulture group, department of Biosystem and Technology at Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU), Alnarp

2014.03.01 - 2015.12.15 - Research Assistant Institution: Chemical Ecology group, department of Plant Protection at Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU)

2007.10.01 - 2013.12.04 - Master of Sciences in Applied Biochemistry University da Madeira, Campus Universitário da Penteada, 9000 Funchal (Portugal) ( Final international classification: 16 (max 20)


Supervising high school students projects

Selected publications

Sousa Maria, On the multitrophic interactions between Ips typographus their tree host, associated microorganisms, and a predatory Medetera fly (2019) Introductory Research Report. Published.



Emina Mulaosmanovic, Sebastian Farkas, Ivar Vågsholm, Julia Darlison, Maria Sousa, Lars Mogren, Samareh Gharaie, Beatrix W. Alsanius, Safety risks associated with dispersal of E. coli O157:H7 in home sprouting modules, LWT, Volume 101, March 2019, Pages 783-788. Published.


Gonzalez F. Bengtsson J.A., Walker W.B., Sousa M., Cattaneo A.M., Montagné N., Fouchier A., Anfora G., Jacquin-Joly G.E., Witzgall P., Ignell R., Bengtsson M. (2015) A conserved odorant receptor detects the same 1-indanone analogs in a tortricid and noctuid moth. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, doi: 10.3389/fevo.2015.0031, Published.



Doctoral Student at the Institutionen för växtskyddsbiologi
Telephone: +4640-415268
Postal address:
Biosystem och teknologi
Box 190
234 22 LOMMA
Visiting address: Sundsvägen 14, Alnarp