Beyond the gene: Linking herbivore behaviour to plant defense gene expression. (2002–2004)
This collaborative project investigates insect herbivore avoidance of plant defence mechanisms. Our project is novel because it integrates changes in the plant at a number of different levels and links them to insect foraging behaviour. Researchers assume that insects respond to 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 pest Helicoverpa (heliothis) as a model system. Damage caused to crops by insect herbivores is a direct function of behaviour. Understanding this behaviour will lead to improved pest management and reduced economic losses.