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Patrizia Vannucchi

Staff picture: Patrizia Vannucchi
Ecological Sciences
Ecological Sciences
PhD Student
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH
Scotland UK


I completed a BSc in Natural Sciences in 2011 at the University of Perugia, conducting a two-year research project on the biology and ethology of the damselfly Ischnura elegans.

In 2013 I completed my Master research degree in Science and Technology for Nature and the Environment conducting a study of the macroinvertebrate community of a Mediterranean seasonal stream in Southern Spain.

I joined the James Hutton Institute in 2014 to undertake a PhD in Ecological Science entitled “Developing Molecular Approaches to Elucidate the Ecology and Function of Oribatid Mite Communities”.

Current research interests

The aim of my PhD project is to develop molecular tools which will significantly simplify and accelerate species identification of mites. At present, most ecological studies involving mite rely upon species identification using their morphology to differentiate between taxa which is a time consuming and laborious process. A few recent studies using molecular approaches to examine soil animal diversity have included mites but due to their small size relative to many other soil animals, the proportion of mites recovered in these samples is very small. In addition, there is no reference data set of sequences from correctly identified mites.

This project aims to address these issues. The first of these problems could be overcome by using a molecular approach that specifically targets the DNA of mites, thus only mite DNA would be sequenced from environmental samples. The second problem can be addressed by creating a database of sequences that are derived from collections of mites identified by experts in mite identification.

By tackling and solving these problems, it will be possible to rapidly assess the composition of mite communities in environmental samples and greatly enhance their use and importance as ecological indicators of environmental changes.


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.