To move or not to move: Are insect movement strategies driven by plant-induced defenses? (2010–2012)
This multidisciplinary collaborative project investigates insect herbivore avoidance of plant defence mechanisms. We use a novel technique to visualise changes in plant defences in situ and link them to insect foraging behaviour by direct observation and experiments. Researchers assume that insects respond to induced plant defences by changing their foraging behaviour. This has not been tested directly. We use the genetically well-characterised plant Arabidopsis and the world-wide pests Helicoverpa (a generalist) and diamondback moth (a host specialist) as a model system. Damage caused to crops by insects is a function of behaviour. Understanding this behaviour will lead to improved pest management and reduced economic losses.