My current project is funded by the STW “Green defence Against Pests (GAP) project - subproject 1.1: “When plant morphology and biocontrol collide”.
Within this scope we study the compatibility between tomato direct defences (i.e. trichomes) and predatory mites as biological control agents of main crop pests (e.g. spider mites, tomato russet mites and thrips). Often, the combination of both strategies is not as not compatible as desired (see figure).
My aim in research is to contribute to a successful pest control in crops combining studies on entomology and molecular biology.
Specifically, I am interested in the following topics:
- The use of predatory mites as Biological Control Agents and its compatibility with plant resistance in tomato crops.
- The study of plant-virus-vector interactions in the light of a better management of pests such as whiteflies and thrips and the plant viruses transmitted by them.
- The application of physical barriers (e.g. UV-absorbing nets) that alter the behavior of insect vectors of plant viruses such as aphids and whiteflies.
- The search for new Bt toxins for a better management of pests in agricultural crops.