Project properties

Title Smart natural enemies for sustainable pest control
Group Entomology, Laboratory of
Project type internship
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) Jetske de Boer,
Examiner(s) Prof. dr. M. Dicke
Contact info Jetske de Boer,
Begin date 2024/02/01
End date 2024/12/31
Description Parasitoids are key natural enemies that contribute to biological control of economically important pests in both agricultural and natural ecosystems. They are however not always efficient in finding the pest insect in the greenhouse because the (mass-)rearing conditions differ from the greenhouse environment in which they are released. This reduces parasitoid motivation and efficiency to search for herbivore insect pests. Interestingly, research shows that parasitoids make use of volatiles during foraging emitted by the host and the plant in response to insect feeding damage. Moreover, experience with these host and plant volatiles can increase the parasitoids’ foraging success through learning, which can significantly improve their ability to control insect pests. This learning ability of parasitoids holds great promise for the optimization of biological pest control but thus far has not led to an application. The focus of this project is on mealybug control in ornamental crops (cut rose and orchids). Within this project, we can host an internship student to test candidate compounds for training the parasitoid wasps. This is done in small scale bioassays and at a larger scale in tents in the greenhouse. The student is also expected to help with insect rearing (mealybugs).

This is a large collaborative project (public-private partnership) performed at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) in Wageningen, in collaboration with Pherobank BV, Glastuinbouw Nederland, Koppert Biological Systems B.V and others.
Used skills 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.