Breeding for insect resistant plants

Insect related problems are causing more and more damage to crop production worldwide.

Many crops suffer from insects, which may take the form of direct damage by feeding but more often the transmission of viruses by the insects causes the real damage. Until now chemical crop protection is seen as the major way to combat these problems. However, insects develop resistance to the insecticides very quickly and insecticides are causing damage not only to the pest insect but also to beneficial insects, such as predators and parasitoids of the pest insect, pollinators, and to harmless fauna. The best strategy is to prevent the problems occurring. For this it would be convenient to have plant varieties that are resistant to insects. In our research group germplasm is evaluated for novel resistances primarily towards sucking insects, with an emphasis on aphids, thrips and whiteflies. Resistant material is further characterized with respect to the resistance mechanism and the inheritance of the resistance. Approaches used involve genetics, genomics, metabolomics and detailed analysis of life history components of the pest insects. The research is expected to result in the identification and characterization genes conferring resistance to insects and means to introduce them into crop varieties. Several of the projects within our groups are carried out in close collaboration with the laboratory of Entomology of Wageningen University and PRI Bioscience for metabolomics.

Projects

  • Whitefly resistance in tomato
  • Thrips and aphid resistance in pepper (Capsicum spp.)
  • Thrips resistance in onion and leek
  • Aphid and whitefly resistance in Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Aphid resistance in lettuce
  • Aphid, rootfly and whitefly resistance in cabbage