The Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research has appointed Gerben Messelink as a Special Professor Biological pest control in greenhouse production systems. The special chair is housed in the chair group Entomology, led by Prof. Marcel Dicke. This special appointment is financed by Koppert Biological Systems and supported by the foundation Stimuflori through the funding of a PhD position.
Prof.dr.ir. G.J. (Gerben) Messelink (‘t Harde, 1973) studied ecological crop protection at Wageningen University and graduated in 1997. After his study, he worked as a plant pathologist for a company in the greenhouse sector. In 1999 he started his career as an applied scientist for the Research Station for Floriculture and Greenhouse Vegetables in Naaldwijk, the cradle of biological pest control in protected crops. At this research station, which later developed into Wageningen University & Research business unit Greenhouse Horticulture, Messelink focused fully on biological pest control in protected crops. In 2012, he obtained a PhD degree at the University of Amsterdam based on a thesis entitled ‘Foodweb complexities and biological pest control in greenhouse crops‘, after which he continued his work at Wageningen University & Research Greenhouse Horticulture as a senior researcher entomology.
Resilient cropping systems
His work contributed to the development of new biological control agents, such as the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii for the control of thrips and whiteflies, the soil-dwelling predatory mite Macrocheles robustulus for the control of thrips and fungus gnats and the parasitoid Aphidius matricariae for the control of aphids. Moreover, the methods for supporting preventative releases and long-term establishment of natural enemies he helped developing have strongly contributed to the design of resilient cropping systems.
Messelink is also internationally active by participating in European projects, developing new biological control programs based on indigenous natural enemies in Asia and Africa, and through his position as general secretary for the International Organisation for Biological and Integrated Control (IOBC).
At Wageningen University & Research, prof. Messelink will continue to focus on the role of generalist predators within resilient cropping systems in greenhouses. This includes the complexity of multiple pest control, complementarity among natural enemies and the interaction of biological control with plant resilience. His aim as a special professor is to strengthen the connection between fundamental ecological research and applied research to foster biological pest control.