Laura Varone

Laura Varone

Researcher FuEDEI, Administrative Board Member
Researcher CONICET

Area of Expertise: Pests, water weeds
Publications: Research Gate

Licentiate in Biological Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, 2004
PhD in Biological Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, 2013

Work experience:

• Researcher at FuEDEI (2014 to date)
• Researcher at USDA/ARS/SABCL (2005 – 2014)
• Intern at SABCL – UBA (2001 – 2005)

Research focus:

My work focuses on the areas of applied entomology and ecology, mainly on pest insect and aquatic weed control with environmentally safe methods, such as biological control. Since 2007 I have been conducting research on systems involving cacti and their associated phytophagous insects. Cacti originated in the Americas, and are important to be conserved in their native areas where they are part of the local flora and food industry. However, when dispersed and distributed outside their native range, they can become invaders and require control.

Since 2013 I have been directing the project for the control of Cactoblastis cactorum, the main pest of prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) in the U.S. and Argentina. The main objective of the project is to identify rational biocontrol strategies and deepen the knowledge in terms of biology, ecology and genetics, of both the pest species and its related species, its host plants (of the genus Opuntia) and natural enemies.

In addition, since 2022 I have participated in the project to control the water hyacinth, Pontederia crassipes, an invader of water bodies in the United States and distributed worldwide.

Current research projects:

• Cactoblastis cactorum (Cactus Moth)
• Hypogeococcus sp. (Cactus mealybug), Brasil-Puerto Rico haplotype
• Pontederia crassipes