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Insect–plant interactions: Study tour takes eucalypt research to Europe

Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra
University of Tasmania

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Dr Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra is dwarfed by the floral emblem of Scotland, a thistle.

­SIP logo thumbIn August this year, I attended the 14th Symposium on Insect-Plant Interactions that was held in Wageningen, The Netherlands. The conference brought together approximately 130 delegates from all around the world to discuss ideas and listen to the latest research on plant-insect interactions. 

I presented a talk in the Community Ecology session.  The talk was on “Stability of plant genetic influences on biotic interactions across varying abiotic and biotic environments,” and was co-authored by Matthew Hamilton, Tanya Bailey, Achana Gauli, Neil Davidson, Joe Bailey and Brad Potts, all from the School of Plant Science at UTAS.  I presented data from several common-environment field trials that demonstrated the genetic stability of eucalypt effects across environments in several eucalypt species including E. globulus.

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Julianne visited the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen.

Notable presentations at the conference included a talk by Roosa Leimu from Oxford University on the “Evolution of plant-herbivore interactions in a changing world” where she presented data on how landscape structure affects the dynamics of plant-herbivore co-evolution and examined how inbreeding alters defence, counter defence and adaptation.

Following the conference, I spent a week with Glenn Iason at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland. Glenn and I are collaborating on a research project on the chemical diversity of terpenes in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), looking at how these compounds impact a range of herbivores, including red deer and molluscs (see our recent collaborative paper, below). During my visit I took a trip to the Dundee campus of the Institute where I presented a talk on “Eucalypt genetic influences: effects on biotic interactions, genetic stability and extended effects”. I was given the opportunity to look at the excellent research facilities at the Dundee site.  I was particularly impressed with the numerous large, climate controlled glasshouses where researchers are addressing questions relating to food and crop security, maintenance of biodiversity and how climate change will affect the way we grow crops and manage land use.

Reference

Iason, G.R., O’Reilly-Wapstra, J.M., Brewer, M., Summers, R.W., Moore, B.M. (2011) Do multiple herbivores maintain chemical diversity of Scots pine monoterpenes? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366: 1377-1345.
BIOBUZZ ISSUE FIFTEEN, DECEMBER 2011