The development and use of novel plant protection strategies against insect pests is steadily increasing as the use of chemical pesticides decreases in favor of more sustainable modern forestry practices. Novel findings in our research group, such as conifers treated in different ways are better protected against pests (intrinsic factor) as well as increased diversity in forests may increase the natural biocontrol of pest insects (extrinsic factor), was the starting point for this project.
These plant protection strategies provide opportunities to utilize plant properties in new ways, to our advantage, and we are investigating how we can manipulate these factors to improve forest protection. In my project, we intend to quantify the relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic factors on plant damage inflicted by insect pests, and investigate how intrinsic and extrinsic factors may interact to increase plant protection in future forests.
To our help we use Norway spruce seedlings produced through a cloning technic called somatic embryogenesis (SE). These SE seedlings have been shown to have an increased resistance against the pine weevil, one of the major regeneration pests in Europe. We are now further exploring this finding, both by looking at resistance and tolerance traits as well as the underlying mechanisms.
I have studied biology focusing on conservation biology and did my magister thesis in ecotoxicology at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, where I studied the toxicity of a novel insecticide on springtails (Folsomia candida). I have a Master by Research degree from Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall, where in my master's thesis, through a collaboration with the John Innes Center in Norwich, I studied flowering genes and climate adaptations of different genotypes of thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana). After my studies, I have worked as a research assistant at the Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment at SLU in Uppsala, within environmental monitoring of chemical pesticides in water.
Jo Hepworth, Rea L Antoniou-Kourounioti, Kristina Berggren, Catja Selga, Eleri H Tudor, Bryony Yates, Deborah Cox, Barley Rose Collier Harris, Judith A Irwin, Martin Howard, Torbjörn Säll, Svante Holm, Caroline Dean (2020) Natural variation in autumn expression is the major adaptive determinant distinguishing Arabidopsis FLC haplotypes. eLife 9:e57671. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.57671
Jo Hepworth, Rea L. Antoniou-Kourounioti, Rebecca Bloomer, Catja Selga, Kristina Berggren, Deborah Cox, Barley R. Collier Harris, Judith Irwin, Svante Holm, Torbjörn Säll, Martin Howard, Caroline Dean (2018) Absence of warmth permits epigenetic memory of winter in Arabidopsis. Nature Communications 9, 639. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03065-7
Vesna Lavtizar, Kristina Berggren, Polonca Trebse, Michiel H.S. Kraak, Rudo A. Verweij, Cornelis A.M. van Gestel (2016) Comparative ecotoxicity of chlorantraniliprole to non-target soil invertebrates. Chemosphere 159, 473-479. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.06.036