Plant-Insect Interactions

Program Chairs: Lieceng Zhu and Julien Saguez

Insects and plants interact at different levels e.g. insects can use plants as food sources, refuges or egg-laying sites. Plants provide resources for insects such as sap, nectar or plant tissues. Different types of beneficial or detrimental interactions occur between plants and insects. They manifest at molecular, behavioral and macroscopic levels. Pollination is an excellent example of a beneficial interaction, plants attracting insects using visual or olfactiory cues to promote their reproduction. In contrast, piercing-sucking insects often carry pathogens (e.g. virus, bacteria, phytoplasma) and chewing insects injure plants that could produce volatiles to attract natural enemies or plant defenses for protection against these pests. Some interactions are highly specific. All these interactions could affect the fitness of insects and the growth and health of plants.

All people working on these different aspects of plant-insect interactions are invited to submit a poster to this session.


Plenary Speakers

Plant-pollinator interactions: When and why insect body size matters
Natalie Hempel de Ibarra, PhD

University of Exeter, Washington Singer Laboratories
Exeter, UK
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Dr. Natalie Hempel de Ibarra is an Associate Professor at the University of Exeter.  She obtained her Ph.D. from the Free University of Berlin and worked in the Institute of Neurobiology as a research fellow and lecturer. After moving to the UK in 2005 for a postdoc at the University of Sussex, she then joined the University of Exeter two years later as a founding member of the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour (CRAB). She is a neuroethologist with over 20 years of experience working on the behaviour, senses and cognition of insects. Her research focuses on how pollinators learn sensory cues and complex information that is available in their natural environment, such as colours, patterns, odours, rewards and landmarks, to locate flowers and select between them. Her lab employs a wide range of techniques to investigate these questions in several insect species, but primarily in the Western honeybee and Buff-tailed bumblebee. Recent work in her group has uncovered when and why bees that differ in size and foraging specialisation perform learning flights at flowers and their nest.


Forest insect-tree interactions: From the tree to the stand
Dezene Huber, PhD

University of Northern British Columbia, Insect Ecology Lab
Prince George, BC, Canada
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Dezene Huber completed his B.Sc. (Zoology) at the University of Calgary and his Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University (Canada). During his research career he and his students and collaborators have studied the behavioural responses of dispersing bark beetles to nonhost volatiles; insect-tree and pathogen-tree interactions; bark beetle overwintering physiology; and bark beetle functional genomics. More recently he has been exploring arthropod biodiversity in British Columbia’s interior and is developing new studies on the effect of ongoing, large-scale forest disturbances on arthropod assemblies in that region. Dezene is the Editor-in-Chief of The Canadian Entomologist, and volunteers as Academic Editor and as Section Editor (Ecology) for PeerJ, and as Subject Editor for the Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia.


Resistance of rice to insect pests mediated by suppression of serotonin biosynthesis
Haiping Lu, PhD

Zhejiang University, Institute of Insect Sciences, College of Agricultural and Biotechnology
Hangzhou, China

Dr. Haiping Lu obtained a B. Sc. Degree in Biology in 2011 (College of Life Science, Shaoxing University, China). In 2016, he obtained his PhD degree in Biophysics (Zhejiang University, China). His research project was about the serotonin in rice, notably on the molecular mechanism of serotonin-SA cross regulation in the brown planthopper-rice interaction. During his PhD, Dr Lu visited the lab of Prof. Angharad M.R. Gatehouse at Newcastle University, UK. Dr Lu is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Zhejiang University (China). He works at the College of Agricultural and Biotechnology, Institute of Insect Sciences, in the lab of Dr. Yonggen Lou. He systematically studies insect related knowledge and experiments, and continues to explore the role of serotonin in the plant-insect interactions.

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