Manipulating Natural Enemies By Plant Variety Selection and Modification: A Realistic Strategy?

  • Bottrell D
  • Barbosa P
  • Gould F
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The host plants of arthropod pests may affect parasitoids and predators directly or indirectly, through multitrophic interactions. Direct plant effects may involve simple mechanisms such as reduced parasitoid searching efficiency caused by trichomes. Multitrophic effects often involve complex interactions that are not well understood, and their impact on natural enemies and biological control are difficult to predict. Knowledge of the direct and multitrophic effects creates opportunities to increase the effectiveness of natural enemies by incorporating natural enemy–enhancing traits into crop plants. The strategy may have potential for both generalist and specialist natural enemies, but the enemies' behavior and other factors will affect the results. Although combining natural enemies and plant resistance may slow the adaptation of some insect pests, it may speed up adaptations of others. A better understanding of plant/pest/natural enemy evolu-tion is necessary to predict how to combine natural enemies and plant resistance for the best long-term results.

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  • Dale G. Bottrell

  • Pedro Barbosa

  • Fred Gould

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