Investigating the use of endophytic entomopathogens in crop protection. / O'Neill, Tara.


Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis



Insect herbivores cause considerable damage to crops and there is an urgent need for sustainable pest management. Pesticide resistance is a global problem, and finding alternative, natural control strategies is urgently required. Entomopathogenic fungi have shown promise in reducing pest insect populations but all commercial preparations are applied externally to plants, like insecticides, meaning that they are subject to environmental conditions and so often fail. It has been shown that these fungi can grow within host plants; however there is a lack of understanding regarding fungal infection and growth in the plant, as well as the mechanism of pathogenicity against insects.

Using an important crop, oilseed rape, Brassica napus, as a study system, this
project will investigate the growth of entomopathogenic fungi within plant  tissues and its effect on plant growth. The effects of fungal infection on a variety of pest and non-target insects will be examined through a series of laboratory and field trials. Interaction mechanisms will be studied, specifically considering changes to metabolite and proteome profiles within the host plant, while also characterising changes in the microbiome. Work on crop-endophyte-insect interactions in this system will further our ecological understanding and provide valuable information for agricultural pest management.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2021

ID: 37072742