Insects and mites are small organisms that are very well informed about their environment. They can use chemical cues such as volatiles or non-volatile cues to obtain information on the presence of e.g. their food, competitors, sexual partners, and enemies. Insects are members of complex communities consisting of e.g. plants, herbivorous, carnivorous arthropods and pollinators.
The ecology of body odour
Herbivorous and carnivorous arthropods use plant volatiles when foraging for food. In response to herbivory plants emit a chemical blend that may be quantitatively and qualitatively different from the blend emitted when intact (plant ‘cry for help’). This induced volatile blend alters the interactions of the plant with its environment. It has been well established that carnivores (predators and parasitoids) are attracted by the volatiles induced by their herbivorous victims. Apart from a benefit from attracting carnivores, the induced volatiles can have a serious cost because herbivores may be attracted. Yet, whether the attracted herbivores settle on the plant that emits the volatiles may depend on the presence of herbivore and/or carnivore cues that indicate that the plant is a competitor- and/or enemy-dense space. Thus, the benefit of emission of induced volatiles is likely to depend on environmental conditions. Whether plants can influence the emission of the induced volatiles, taking the prevalent environmental conditions into account, is an interesting question that needs to be addressed. The induced volatiles may also affect interactions of the emitting plant with its neighbours, e.g. through altered competitive ability or by the neighbour exploiting the emitted information. This is a topic that should receive more attention.We investigate the ecology of infochemicals through a multidisciplinary approach, from genes to the community.
Apart from research on infochemicals in plant-arthropod interactions, we have also started a study on the role of infochemicals in chicken-mite interactions and the potential for exploiting the infochemicals to control mites that attack chicken.
Our research focuses on:
- Chemical ecology of multitrophic interactions: what chemicals are induced in plants by herbivory, what is their effect on arthropod behaviour, and how do the cues affect interactions in the community?
- Plant-mediated interactions among microbes, herbivorous insects, carnivorous insects and pollinating insects.
- Molecular ecology of multitrophic interactions: what signal-transduction pathways are induced in plants by herbivory, what genes are induced, what transcriptome changes occur in response to attack by different types of organisms?
- Behavioural ecology of predator avoidance: how do predator cues affect prey behaviour?
Data from: Cross-seasonal legacy effects of arthropod community on plant fitness in perennial plants
Defense of pyrethrum flowers: repelling herbivore and recruiting carnivore by producing aphid alarm pheromone
New Phytologist 223 (2019)3. - ISSN 0028-646X - p. 1607 - 1620.
Een onderzoek naar mogelijke relaties tussen de afname van weidevogels en de aanwezigheid van bestrijdingsmiddelen op veehouderijbedrijven : onderzoeksrapport
Bennekom - p.
An Integrated System for the Automated Recording and Analysis of Insect Behavior in T-maze Arrays
Frontiers in Plant Science 10 (2019). - ISSN 1664-462X
Data from: Intraspecific variation in herbivore-induced plant volatiles influences the spatial range of plant-parasitoid interactions
Data from: Parasitic wasp-associated symbiont affects plant-mediated species interactions between herbivores
Genome-wide association mapping of the architecture of susceptibility to the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita in Arabidopsis thaliana
Insects as feed and the Sustainable Development Goals
Journal of Insects as Food and Feed 4 (2018)3. - ISSN 2352-4588 - p. 147 - 156.
Data from: Order of herbivore arrival on wild cabbage populations influences subsequent arthropod community development
Data from: Symbiotic polydnavirus and venom reveal parasitoid to its hyperparasitoids