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Title: How do interactions between herbivores and mycorrhizal fungi regulate production of plant signalling compounds and parasitoid behaviour?
Author: Babíková, Zděnka
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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The aim of this PhD was to investigate major gaps in our understanding of how mycorrhizal fungi and aphids interact via their effects on plants, and how these interactions regulate emission of plant volatiles and consequently aphid and parasitoid host location. A series of experiments was designed using broad bean (Vicia faba L.), pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum) and their parasitoid wasp, Aphidius ervi and mixed or single spore cultures of AM fungi as a model system. This PhD has determined that arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are more important drivers of above-ground ecological interactions than ever considered before. They have key roles in specialist aphid host location and in influencing their development. The antagonistic effect of aphids on functioning of mycorrhizal association suggests that the interactions operate in both directions. However, if plants were supplied with phosphorus the aphids did not affect mycorrhizal colonisation suggesting that at sufficient phosphorus availability plants can tolerate the effect of aphids on mycorrhizal colonisation. This demonstrates how dynamic the multi-trophic systems are and that their outcomes are also influenced by soil nutrient availability, with implications for agricultural practices. This PhD has discovered that underground signals carried through common mycelial networks warn neighbouring plants of aphid attack. This signalling allows plants that receive the signal to initiate their defence system by changing their profiles of volatiles emissions and repel aphids and attract their parasitoids so that they may prevent the attack. Because the signal transfer is rapid it incurs the greatest fitness benefit for the receiving plant and potentially also for the donor of the signal and for the fungi. We now need to determine the wider ecosystem implications of this phenomenon, how the signalling is regulated in nature and in agroecosystems and what the fitness consequences are for each component organism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council (NE/G012008/1) ; Rothamsted Research
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mycorrhizal fungi ; Plant-pathogen relationships ; Aphids