Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Project B3

Priming of plant defence by below- and aboveground herbivores

Principal Investigator: Jun. Prof. Dr. Susanne Wurst


Plant defence can be systemically induced by both above- and belowground herbivores. Previous herbivory may also “prime” plants to respond more efficiently to subsequent herbivores. However, it is largely unknown whether priming mechanisms link below- and aboveground plant parts to optimise plant defence. Thus I aim to know whether and how belowground herbivory early in the season primes plants to be better defended against subsequent aboveground herbivores and vice versa. Both below- and aboveground generalist and specialist herbivores will be investigated as priming and triggering stimuli. The priming responses of r- and K-strategist plant species (Nicotiana attenuata and Solanum dulcamara) will be compared and greenhouse and field studies will be combined in order to investigate both the priming mechanisms and their relevance in the field. The goal is to find out whether (i) priming plays a role in the seasonal succession of herbivores feeding on a plant, (ii) priming is more effective against specialist than generalist herbivores, and (iii) plants with contrasting life strategies differ in their priming responses.


  • Cosme, M., Stout, M.J. and Wurst, S. 2011. Effect of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Glomus intraradices) on the oviposition of rice water weevil (Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus). Mycorrhiza 21:651-658.
  • Wurst, S. and Forstreuter, M. 2010. Colonisation of Tanacetum vulgare by aphids is reduced by earthworms. Entomol. Exp. Appl.137:86-92.
  • Wurst, S., Wagenaar, R., Biere, A. and van der Putten, W.H. 2010. Microorganisms and nematodes increase levels of secondary compounds in roots and root exudates of Plantago lanceolata. Plant Soil 329:117-126.
  • Wurst, S., van Beersum, S., Wagenaar, R., Bakx-Schotman, T., Drigo, B., Janzik, I., Lanoue,A. and van der Putten, W.H. 2009. Plant defence against nematodes is not mediated by changes in the soil microbial community. Funct. Ecol. 23:488-495.
  • Wurst, S., van Dam, N.M., Monroy, F., Biere, A. and van der Putten, W.H. 2008. Intraspecific variation in plant defence alters effects of root herbivores on leaf chemistry and aboveground herbivore damage. J. Chem. Ecol. 34:1360-1367.
  • Wurst, S. and van der Putten, W.H. 2007. Root herbivore identity matters in plant-mediated interactions between root and shoot herbivores. Basic Appl. Ecol. 8:491-499.
  • Wurst, S., Langel, R., Rodger, S. and Scheu S 2006. Effects of belowground biota on primary and secondary metabolites in Brassica oleracea. Chemoecology 16:69-73.