Influence of hidden plant pathogens on ecological interactions at higher trophic levels
- Prof Mark Fellowes – SBS, University of Reading
- Malaysia Government
- April 2014
Plant traits play an important role in determining the dynamics and structure of insect communities. Changes in plant traits induced by the infection of a plant pathogen may have a cascading effect on both the direct and indirect interactions between the plant and other organisms at higher trophic levels. As a consequence, these interactions could shape community structure and influence the abundance of other species within this ecosystem. My research aims to examine the ecological importance of three-way interactions between plants, microbes and insects. I will examine the effect of hidden plant pathogen infection on the life history and behaviour of herbivorous insects, and its consequent effects on the insect community at higher trophic levels. Since the behaviour of natural enemies such as parasitoids and predators are important factors in determining the efficacy of biological control, this study will provide valuable information on the direct and indirect impacts of these interactions within agro-ecosystems.