Friday, June 16 2023
15:30 - 16:30

Alladi Ramakrishnan Hall

Molecular and chemical ecology of the plant-insect herbivore-natural enemy interactions in the omics era: An agricultural perspective

Sagar Pandit


Plants constantly interact with different biotic and abiotic factors in their environment. Herbivore insects are one of the common biotic interactors. Since insect herbivores cause damage, plants use defense strategies against these herbivores. In response, the insect herbivores evolve counter-defense strategies. This race towards one-upmanship is constantly on in the nature, so it is popularly called as an ‘evolutionary arms race’. Since most of these defense and counter-defense are chemically based, they are also considered to be a part of the ‘biochemical warfare’ between plants and insects. Insect herbivore's natural enemies like parasitoids, predators, pathogens, etc. add another dimension to this interaction and make it 'tritrophic'. In ecological terms, plants exert a bottom-up force by using defense chemicals, natural enemies exert a top-down force on the insect herbivores. From the agricultural viewpoint, herbivores are pests, plants' defense chemicals are biopesticides, and the natural enemies are the biocontrol agents. We integrate the classical ecological, and modern omics methods like genomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics to study these interactions and find agriculturally important solutions. In my seminar, I will discuss some of the interesting biochemical warfare strategies and how understanding these strategies can help our insect-pest management programs in agriculture.

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