My research involves molecular and evolutionary ecology of the interactions between phytophagous insects, their host plants and their natural enemies.
As a model, I study the interaction between the flea beetle, Phyllotreta nemorum, its cruciferous host plants (especially Barbarea vulgaris) and a natural enemy (the parasitoid Aneuclis brevicauda). I aim to understand the evolution of the interactions between these organisms by studying the genetic basis of adaptations and the factors that influence the distribution of these adaptations.
P. nemorum is polymorphic for the presence of resistance genes, which enable the beetles to use B. vulgaris as a host plant. B. vulgaris is unsuitable as host plant for P. nemorum individuals in which the resistance genes are not expressed. The distribution of the resistance genes can be influenced by selection and migration, where ecological factors, such as host plant phenology, abundance of host plant species, and parasitism may play a role.
In my work I try to find the relationship between the geographical- and host plant associated distribution of resistance and population structure, indicated by neutral markers. I also study the selective forces acting on resistance, such as trade-offs associated with the presence of resistance genes, host plant dependent parasitism of P. nemorum, temporal variation in defence of B. vulgaris, availability of the various host plant species, and the interactions between these factors. Eventually the results of this work will contribute to a better understanding of the processes influencing biodiversity.
Apart from the importance of knowledge about processes connected to biodiversity for management of ecosystems, the genetic basis of the resistance of P. nemorum for defence of B. vulgaris resembles the genetic basis of insecticide resistance in insects. Therefore, the research on this model will certainly yield valuable insights in processes influencing the spread of resistance against insecticides. Moreover, P. nemorum (as well as closely related species) itself is a pest, and it is important to understand its host plant use to be able to develop environmentally benign control methods.
A solanum beetle on a fabaceous weed: Host plant generalization and specialization are two sides of the same coin
Entomological Science 20 (2017)1. - p. 195 - 212.
Life history of the Harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis; a global meta-analysis
Varied responses by yeast-like symbionts during virulence adaptation in a monophagous phloem-feeding insect
Arthropod-Plant Interactions 9 (2015)3. - ISSN 1872-8855 - p. 215 - 224.
Altered volatile profile associated with precopulatory mate guarding attracts spider mite males
Journal of Chemical Ecology 41 (2015). - ISSN 0098-0331 - p. 187 - 193.
Invasive alien species under attack: natural enemies of Harmonia axyridis in the Netherlands
BioControl 59 (2014)2. - ISSN 1386-6141 - p. 229 - 240.
Releases of a natural flightless strain of the ladybird beetle Adalia bipunctata reduce aphid-born honeydew beneath urban lime trees
BioControl 58 (2013)2. - ISSN 1386-6141 - p. 195 - 204.
Symbiont-mediated adaptation by planthoppers and leafhoppers to resistant rice varieties
Arthropod-Plant Interactions 7 (2013)6. - ISSN 1872-8855 - p. 591 - 605.
Comment on "Invasive Harlequin Ladybird Carries Biological Weapons Against Native Competitors"
Science 341 (2013)6152. - ISSN 0036-8075
Diapause and post-diapause quiescence demonstrated in overwintering Harmonia axyeidis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in northwestern Europe
European Journal of Entomology 110 (2013)4. - ISSN 1210-5759 - p. 585 - 591.
Changes in frequencies of genes that enable Phyllotreta nemorum to utilize its host plant, Barbarea vulgaris, vary in magnitude and direction, as much within as between seasons
Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 144 (2012)1. - ISSN 0013-8703 - p. 37 - 44.