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Examining the interactions between plant-feeding insects and symbiotic fungi


School of Biological Sciences

About the Project

“Plants are not discrete entities, but instead are mergers of fungal cells with plant tissues”. This statement implies that every living plant has fungi living within the roots and shoots. What are the consequences of such infection for insects that also feed upon these plants? Can certain fungi protect plants against insect herbivore attack and so be used to help control pest insects? Meanwhile, if other fungi decrease the resistance of plants to herbivore attack, could these be used to improve biological weed control practises? Do the effects of the fungi extend to other trophic levels, such as predators and parasitoids? Our laboratory is trying to answer these questions and more, so as to understand the role that symbiotic fungi play in structuring communities of plants and animals.
Projects are available in the general area of insect-plant-fungal interactions, involving root-inhabiting mycorrhizal fungi and shoot-inhabiting endophyte fungi. We work with a variety of insects and collaborate with laboratories across the world.

Funding Notes



References

Hartley, S.E. & Gange, A.C. (2009). The impacts of symbiotic fungi on insect herbivores: mutualism in a multitrophic context. Annual Review of Entomology 54, 323-342

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