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).
Edible insects unlikely to contribute to transmission of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2Journal of Insects as Food and Feed 6 (2020)4. - ISSN 2352-4588 - p. 333 - 339.
Use of semiochemicals for surveillance and control of hematophagous insectsChemoecology (2020). - ISSN 0937-7409
Nutrient flows and associated gaseous emissions of the production of black soldier fliesIn: Wias Annual Conference 2020. - : WIAS - p. 51 - 51.
Nutrient flows and associated gaseous emissions of the production of black soldier fliesIn: WIAS Annual Conference 2020. - : WIAS - p. 51 - 51.
Fractional Absorption of Iron from Crickets Consumed with Refined or Whole Meal Maize Porridge in Young Adult Women (OR07-06-19)Current Developments in Nutrition 3 (2019)Supplement_1. - ISSN 2475-2991 - p. 728 - 728.
Correction: Feed Conversion, Survival and Development, and Composition of Four Insect Species on Diets Composed of Food By-ProductsPLoS ONE (2019). - ISSN 1932-6203 - p. 1 - 7.
Resource conversion by black soldier fly larvae: towards standardisation of methods and reportingIn: Book of Abstracts of the 70th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science. - : Wageningen Academic Publishers (EAAP book of abstracts No. 25 ) - ISBN 9789086863396 - p. 324 - 324.
Standardisation of quantitative resource conversion studies with black soldier fly larvaeJournal of Insects as Food and Feed 6 (2019)2. - ISSN 2352-4588 - p. 95 - 109.
Mosquito attractantsOctrooinummer: WO2019186123, gepubliceerd: 2019-12-05.
Effects of selected insecticides on Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae