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?
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.
Predator-prey interactions and life history of Orius laevigatus and O. majusculus feeding on flower and leaf-inhabiting thripsBiological Control 172 (2022). - ISSN 1049-9644
Herbivore-induced plant volatiles, not natural enemies, mediate a positive indirect interaction between insect herbivoresOecologia 198 (2022)2. - ISSN 0029-8549 - p. 443 - 456.
Insects: friend and foeIn: Plant Health / , Govers, F., Pieterse, C., Termorshuizen, A., Smit, A.. - Den Haag : Stichting Biowetenschappen en Maatschappij (BWM) (Booklet 2) - ISBN 9789493232020 - p. 21 - 21.
Use of black soldier fly and house fly in feed to promote sustainable poultry productionJournal of Insects as Food and Feed 7 (2021)5. - ISSN 2352-4588 - p. 761 - 780.
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.
Towards Circular Agriculture – Exploring Insect Waste Streams as a Crop and Soil Health PromoterJournal of Insects as Food and Feed 7 (2021)3. - ISSN 2352-4588 - p. 357 - 368.
Plant praat met bodemschimmels en bacteriën via vluchtige stoffen. Soms worden vijanden vrienden, of andersomOnder Glas 18 (2021)2. - p. 44 - 45.
LEDs Make It Resilient: Effects on Plant Growth and DefenseTrends in Plant Science 26 (2021)5. - ISSN 1360-1385 - p. 496 - 508.
Insecten als vriend en vijandIn: Cahier Biowetenschappen & Maatschappij / , Govers, F., Pieterse, C., Termorshuizen, A., Smit, A.. - Den Haag : Stichting Biowetenschappen en Maatschappij (BWM) (Cahier Biowetenschappen & Maatschappij 2) - ISBN 9789073196988 - p. 21 - 21.