Project properties

Title Evolution of egg-killing in Brassicales
Group Biosystematics Group
Project type thesis
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) Dr. Nina Fatouros
Examiner(s)
Contact info nina.fatouros@wur.nl
Begin date 2020/12/01
End date 2023/09/30
Description Members of the Brassicaceae family are known to express a hypersensitive response(HR)-like necrosis when cabbage white butterflies (Pieris sp.) lay eggs on their leaves. The plant responds with a local cell death in the leaf underneath the eggs that causes desiccation and even egg dropping. Consequently, eggs are killed before the insect larvae can hatch, preventing feeding damage to the plants. However, not all species express the HR-like necrosis in response to eggs, and the strength of the response seems to vary between and within species.

In this project, we aim to understand when HR-like necrosis evolved in the Brassicales and if this is correlated with specific morphological and/or chemical adaptations to specialist herbivores. You will screen plant species from different families (Brassicaceae and Cleomecae) for the expression of HR after oviposition by P. brassicae. You will also link this to survival of the eggs and performance of the larvae on the same plants.
Used skills Plant phenotyping, butterfly preferences, egg mortality assays, bar coding, phylogenetic analyses, R.
Requirements Basic knowledge and an interest in: plant-insect interactions, evolution, bioinformatics. Knowledge gained in Comparative Biology and Systematics course.