Coevolution meets control: reciprocal adaptation of a crop pest and its biological control agent

27 septembre 2023, 15h30 - 16h30

Eawag Dübendorf, FC C24 & Online

Speaker: Assistant Prof. Dr. Amanda Gibson

Please contact admin.eco@eawag.ch to get the Zoom link for Eco's Seminar Series


Biological control offers a sustainable alternative to chemical control of agricultural pests, by using natural enemies to suppress pest survival and reproduction. A key challenge to overcome in biological control is the variability of outcomes, with control succeeding in some cases but not others. My group draws from the field of host-parasite coevolution to design and test solutions to achieve consistent, effective biological control when it is constrained by genotype-by-genotype specificity. We specifically study the obligate parasite Pasteuria penetrans for biological control of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne), considered one of the world’s most damaging crop pests in terms of yield loss and control costs. I will present empirical results that 1) establish a genotype-by-genotype interaction underlying this interaction, and 2) point to increased parasite diversity as a viable strategy for improving the success of biological control. This work also lays the groundwork for deeper examination of the mechanisms underlying host-parasite coevolution