My research is focused on sensory and nutritional interactions in insect-plant and multitrophic systems consisting of: plants – plant feeding insects - parasitoids - predators.
Over 80% of plant feeding insect species and many parasitoid species are specialized feeders, whereas predators comprise both specialized and generalist species.Using comparative physiological, behavioural and ecological approaches, we study questions on the use of chemical information by insects, such as:
- how do specialists recognise their host plants and how do generalists discriminate preferred plants from less preferred plants?
- which chemical cues play a key role in host (plant) and prey searching and host (plant) acceptance?
- which chemoreceptors mediate these cues? How specific are these chemoreceptors?
- how is olfactory activity encoded and processed in the brain to generate behaviour? (cooperation with Hans Smid)
- what chemical changes take place in a plant when it is damaged by a plant-feeding insect and how does this affect plant-feeding insects, their parasitoids and predators? (cooperation with Marcel Dicke)
- are there fitness benefits to plants by emitting volatile information which attracts natural enemies? (cooperation with Marcel Dicke and Jeff Harvey)
I am also involved in projects studying the odour-mediated host selection behaviour of malaria mosquitoes (cooperation with Willem Takken).
Behavioural studies are the starting point of our work. We dispose over wind tunnels, olfactometers, a locomotion compensator (automated detailed walking track recording), videocamera’s, behavioural recording and analysis software and we use a range of feeding and oviposition assays on natural and artificial substrates. Behavioural observations raise questions on specificity and sensitivity of sensory perception which are addressed using electrophysiological techniques. Specificity and sensitivity of chemoreceptors that insects use to perceive plant-derived compounds are analysed by electrophysiological techniques: electroantennagrams (EAG) and single cell recordings on taste (‘tip-recording’) and olfactory neurons (surface-contact recording). For volatile plant compounds, sensory and chemical-analytical techniques are combined on-line, thereby enabling the efficient detection of individual chemicals that elicit sensory activity (coupled gas chromatography – electroantennography (GC-EAG)). Active chemicals eliciting attraction or acceptance are subsequently isolated and identified in several projects using a range of chemical analytical techniques (GC-MS, HPLC) under the guidance of behavioural assays, in close cooperation with chemists (Department of Organic Chemistry at WAU; Netherlands Institute of Ecological Research CTO-NIOO of KNAW; Department of Organic Chemistry, Technical University of Braunschweig; Institute of Zoology, Free University of Berlin).
Health of the black soldier fly and house fly under mass-rearing conditions : innate immunity and the role of the microbiomeJournal of Insects as Food and Feed 8 (2022)8. - ISSN 2352-4588 - p. 857 - 878.
Effects of insecticides on lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus) – bioaccumulation, mortality, and growthJournal of Insects as Food and Feed 8 (2022)7. - ISSN 2352-4588 - p. 773 - 782.
Development of housefly larvae on manure from herbivores, omnivores and carnivoresIn: Book of abstracts of the 72nd annual meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science. - : Wageningen Academic Publishers (EAAP Book of Abstracts 27) - ISBN 9789086863662 - p. 154 - 154.
Biology, physiology and nutritional composition of common edible insectsIn: The basics of edible insect rearing / , Veldkamp, T., Claeys, J., Haenen, O.L.M., van Loon, J.J.A., Spranghers, T.. - Wageningen : Wageningen Academic Publishers - ISBN 9789086863655 - p. 9 - 35.
The basics of edible insect rearing. Handbook for the production chain: Wageningen Academic Publishers - ISBN 9789086863655 - p.
Effects of four mycotoxins on survival, growth and toxin accumulation in Musca domestica larvae
A systematic literature review on the effects of mycotoxin exposure on insects and on mycotoxin accumulation and biotransformationMycotoxin Research 37 (2021)4. - ISSN 0178-7888 - p. 279 - 295.
Black Soldier Fly Larval Meal in Feed Enhances Growth Performance, Carcass Yield and Meat Quality of Finishing PigsJournal of Insects as Food and Feed 7 (2021)4. - ISSN 2352-4588 - p. 433 - 447.
Future feed control – Tracing banned bovine material in insect mealFood Control 128 (2021). - ISSN 0956-7135
Fine mapping of a thrips resistance QTL in Capsicum and the role of diterpene glycosides in the underlying mechanismTheoretical and Applied Genetics 134 (2021)5. - ISSN 0040-5752 - p. 1557 - 1573.