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: Compatible and incompatible pathogen-plant interactions differentially affect plant volatile emissions and the attraction of parasitoid wasps: Wageningen University & Research
Data from: Endure and call for help: strategies of black mustard plants to deal with a specialised caterpillar: Wageningen University & Research
AtWRKY22 promotes susceptibility to aphids and modulates salicylic acid and jasmonic acid signallingJournal of Experimental Botany 67 (2016)1. - ISSN 0022-0957 - p. 3383 - 3396.
Plant-mediated interactions between two herbivores differentially affect a subsequently arriving third herbivore in populations of wild cabbagePlant Biology 18 (2016)6. - ISSN 1435-8603 - p. 981 - 991.
Negative impact of drought stress on a generalist leaf chewer and a phloem feeder is associated with, but not explained by an increase in herbivore-induced indole glucosinolatesEnvironmental and Experimental Botany 123 (2016). - ISSN 0098-8472 - p. 88 - 97.
Het verleden van onze toekomst : kroniek van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Plantenziektekundige VerenigingWageningen : KNPV - p.
Quantitative resistance against Bemisia tabaci in Solanum pennellii: Genetics and metabolomicsJournal of Integrative Plant Biology 58 (2016)4. - ISSN 1672-9072 - p. 397 - 412.
Visual and odour cues: plant responses to pollination and herbivory affect the behaviour of flower visitorsFunctional Ecology 30 (2016)3. - ISSN 0269-8463 - p. 431 - 441.
Data from: Parasitism overrides herbivore identity allowing hyperparasitoids to locate their parasitoid host by using herbivore-induced plant volatiles: Wageningen University & Research
Data from: Direct and indirect genetic effects in life history traits of flour beetles (Tribolium castaneum): Wageningen University & Research