Project properties

Title Plant defence to multi herbivore attack: dealing with unpredictable insect communities
Group Entomology, Laboratory of
Project type thesis
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) Erik Poelman
Examiner(s) Marcel Dicke
Contact info
Begin date 2015/11/01
End date 2020/12/31
Description Plants interact with a large number of attackers. The arrival of these attackers may be unpredictable in terms of the species identity, the moment in time and the order in which attack may take place. It is hypothesized that plants deal with unpredictable attack by inducing their defences upon attack and tailor their defences towards the type of attacker. However, a response to one herbivore may potentially lead to susceptibility to yet another. To understand how plants deal with multi-herbivore attack, it is important to understand two parts of the story:
1) How strongly are induced responses determining insect community development? Or in other words, do plant responses to initial herbivory result in predictable changes in the likelihood that the plant will be colonised by other herbivores. This entails manipulation of insect communities, by introducing a first coloniser and monitor subsequent community development as well as fitness consequences to the plant (using seed set as proxy).
2) How flexible/plastic are plants in response to insect herbivory? Can plants redirect their defences to each new attacker or are they constraint by the legacy of their previous response? This entails a plant physiological approach: manipulating the order of herbivore colonisation on the plant and test how well plants can shift around their physiology.
Used skills Community ecology and/or modelling, or a combination of insect preference/performance and plant molecular ecology (measuring gene expressing using qPCR).
Requirements For doing a BSc-thesis at Entomology, there are no requirements for specific courses.
For doing a MSc-thesis or internship at Entomology, the following requirements apply: ENT-30806 + a second ENT-course (preferably ENT-30306 or ENT-50806 or ENT-53806). As an alternative for the second ENT-course, PHP-30806 or BHE-30306 can be selected.
Note: these requirements do not apply for MBI students; MBI students should check the requirements for doing an ENT MSc-thesis or internship in the study programme of their specialisation.