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Velemir Ninkovic

Velemir Ninkovic
Senior Lecturer and External Collaboration Specialist in plant protection with emphasis on integrated pest management in agriculture


Research interests

My research area within ecology is plant-plant chemical interaction, its ecological and mechanistic aspects, and its application in sustainable pest management.

Coexistence with other plants is the most common type of biotic challenge that a plant individual faces. Plants do not see, hear, smell or test, but they communicate with each other in different ways including chemical signalling between different plants pairs. Emission of chemical compounds as a natural consequence of plant life may have profound effects on neighbouring plant individuals. For instance volatiles produced by damaged plants have been shown as signals that initiate defensive responses in neighbouring plants making them less attractive for herbivores and more attractive for their natural enemies. However, chemical interactions between undamaged plants have not previously been considered as an important factor in such ecological communities.

Thus the focus of my research are the chemically-mediated interactions between undamaged plants and the importance of the indirect mediated effects of plant-plant interaction in plant-herbivore-natural enemy communities and how this knowledge can be applied to development of sustainable crop protection strategies.


Professional preparation

  • MSc in Plant Breeding, 1996, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences,  
  • PhD in Applied Entomology, 2002, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Associate professor in Ecology, 2009, Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 


Current appointment
Associate Professor (Docent) 2014 - present, Department of Crop Production  Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Visiting Professor (Gästprofessor) 2011- present, Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade, Serbia


Previous appointments

2009 - 2014 Associate Professor (Docent), Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

2005 - 2009 Assistant Professor (Forskare), Department of Entomology/Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

2003 – 2004 Post-doctoral fellow, Wageningen University, Laboratory of Entomology, The Netherlands

2002 – 2003 Researcher (Forskare), Department of Entomology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

1997 – 2002 PhD student, Department of Entomology, Swedish of Agricultural Sciences       

1995 – 1996 Research assistant (Forskningsassistent), Department of Plant Breeding, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences


Other appointment

1997 Teacher on natural sciences, Komvux Tyresö, Sweden




Ongoing and curent finished research projects

  • Cultivar mixture - a robust cropping system
  • Multifunctional cropping systems: linking plant-plant interactions, insect pest control and wildlife
  • Functional botanical diversity: a path to robust cropping systems
  • Detecting and monitoring potato virus infections using infrared technology
  • The role of ladybirds’ footprints in plant protection against aphids
  • Which barley cultivar mixtures should be grown?
  • Nanotechnology for innovative protection against insect pests
  • Volatile interaction between plant genotypes: a sustainable control of fungal pathogens 

Selected publications

Publications in international peer-reviewed journals

Google Scholar Citations

Ninkovic V, Markovic D, Rensing M (2020) Plant volatiles as cues and signals in plant communication. Plant, Cell & Environment

Vicherová E., Glinwood R., Hájek T., Šmilauer P. & Ninkovic V. (2020) Bryophytes can recognize their neighbours through volatile organic compounds. Scientific Reports 10: 7405.

Djuric N., Andric, G., Ninkovic, V., Prazic-Golic, M., Kljaic, P. & Radonic, A. (2020) Behavioural responses of Tribolium castaneum (herbst) to different types of uninfested and infested feed. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 110: 550-557. doi: 10.1017/S0007485320000024

Norkute M., Olsson, U. & Ninkovic, V. (2020) Aphids-induced plant volatiles affect diel foraging behaviour of a ladybird beetle Coccinella septempunctata. Insect Sciences 27: 1266-1275.

Dahlin, I., Kiær, L.P., Bergkvist, G., Weih, M. & Ninkovic, V. (2020) Plasticity of barley in response to plant neighbors in cultivar mixtures. Plant Soil, 447: 537–55. 

Ninkovic, V., Rensing, M., Dahlin, I., & Markovic, D. (2019) Who is my neighbor? Volatile cues in plant interactions. Plant Signaling & Behavior, Vol. 14, No. 9.

Markovic, D., Colzi, I., Taiti, C., Ray, S., Scalone R., Ali, J.G., Mancuso, S., & Ninkovic, V. (2019) Airborne signals synchronize the defenses of neighboring plants in response to touch. Journal of Experimental Botany, 70: 691-700.

Rubene, D., Leidefors, M., Ninkovic, V., Eggers, S.  & Low, M. (2019) Disentangling olfactory and visual information used by field foraging birds. Ecology and Evolution, 9: 545–552.

Dahlin I., Rubene, D., Glinwood, R. & Ninkovic, V. (2018) Pest suppression in cultivar mixtures is influenced by neighbor-specific plant-plant communication. Ecological Applications, 28: 2187-2196.

Radonjic, A., Terenius, O. & Ninkovic, V. (2018) The phytopathogen powdery mildew affects food-searching behavior and survival of Coccinella septempunctata. Arthropod-Plant Interactions (Online) DOI: 10.1007/s11829-018-9617-x

Elhakeem, A., Markovic, D., Broberg, A., Anten, N. & Ninkovic, V. (2018) Aboveground mechanical stimuli affect belowground plant-plant communication. PLoS ONE 13(5): e0195646.

Fedderwitz, F., Björklund, N., Ninkovic, V. & Nordlander, G. (2018) Does the pine weevil (Hylobius abietis) prefer conifer seedlings over other main food sources? Silva Fennica vol. 52 no. 3 article id 9946. 9 p

Jodaugienė, D., Sinkevičienė, A., Pupalienė, R., Ninkovic, V. & Kriauciuniene, Z. (2018) Allelopathic effect of organic mulches on vegetable germination and early development.

Markovic, D., Nikolic, N., Glinwood, R., Seisenbaeva G. & Ninkovic, V. (2016) Plant responses to brief touching: A mechanism for early neighbour detection? PLoS ONE, 11(11): e0165742. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165742

Ninkovic, V., Markovic, D. & Dahlin, I. (2016) Decoding neighbour volatiles in preparation for future competition and implications for tritrophic interactions. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 23: 11-17, Open access

Fedderwitz, F., Nordlander, G., Ninkovic, V. & Björklund, N. (2016) Effects of jasmonate-induced resistance in conifer plants on the feeding behaviour of a bark-chewing insect, Hylobius abietis. Journal of Pest Science, 88(1): 97-105 DOI 10.1007/s10340-015-0684-9

Fedderwitz, F., Björklund, N., Ninkovic, V. & Nordlander, G. (2015) The structure of feeding behavior in a phytophagous insect (Hylobius abietis). Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 155: 229-239

Kegge, W., Ninkovic, V, Glinwood, R., Welschen, R.A.M., Voesenek L.A.C.J. & Pierik, R. (2015) Exposure to low red:far-red light conditions affects emission of volatile organic compounds and their effects on biomass allocation in neighbouring barley (Hordeum vulgare) plants. Annals of Botany 115: 961-970. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcv036

Dahlin I., Vucetic A. & Ninkovic V. (2015) Changed host plant volatile emissions induced by chemical interaction between unattacked plants reduce aphid plant acceptance with intermorph variation. Journal of Pest Science 88: 249-257

Vucetic A, Dahlin I, Petrovic-Obradovic O, Glinwood R, Webster B, & Ninkovic V. (2014) Volatile interaction between undamaged plants affects tritrophic interactions through changed plant volatile emission. Plant Signaling & Behavior; 9:e29517; on line

Markovic D., Glinwood, R. Olsson, U. & Ninkovic, V. (2014) Plant response to touch affects the behaviour of aphids and ladybirds. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 8: 171-181.

Fedderwitz, F., Björklund, N., Ninkovic, V. & Nordlander, G. (2014) Diel behaviour and time budget of the adult pineweevil Hylobius abietis. Physiological Entomology 39: 103-110 DOI: 10.1111/phen.12053

Kuhlmann, F., Opitz S.E.W., Inselsbacher, E., Ganeteg, U., Näsholm T. & Ninkovic, V. (2013) Exploring the nitrogen ingestion of aphids — a new method using electrical penetration graph and 15N labeling. PLoS ONE 8 (12): e83085

Ninkovic, V., Dahlin, I., Vucetic, A., Petrovic-Obradovic, O., Glinwood, R. & Webster, B. (2013) Volatile exchange between undamaged plants - a new mechanism affecting insect orientation in intercropping. PLoS ONE 8 (7): e69431 

Dahlin, I. & Ninkovic, V. (2013) Aphid performance and population development on their host plants is affected by weed – crop interactions. Journal of Applied Ecology 50 (5) 1281-1288

Ninkovic, V., Feng Y. Olsson, U. & Pettersson, J. (2013) Ladybird footprints induce aphid avoidance behavior. Biological Control 65: 63-71

Ninkovic, V., Al Abassi, S., Ahmed, E., Glinwood, R. & Pettersson, J. (2011) Effect of within-species plant genotype mixing on habitat preference of a polyphagous insect predator. Oecologia 166: 391–400

 Glinwood, R., Ninkovic, V. & Pettersson, J (2011) Chemical interaction between undamaged plants- effects on herbivores and natural enemies. Phytochemistry 72: 1683–1689

Glinwood, R., Ahmed E., Qvarfordt, E. & Ninkovic, V. (2011) Olfactory learning of plant genotypes by a polyphagous insect predator. Oecologia 166: 637–647

Åhman, I., Glinwood, R., Ninkovic, V. & Jonsson LMV (2011) The interaction between bird cherry-oat aphid and barley in a changing climate. South African Journal of Botany 77: 534-534

 Kellner, M., Kolodinska Brantestam A., Åhman I. & Ninkovic V. (2010) Plant volatile induced aphid resistance in barley cultivars is related to cultivar age. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 121: 1133–1139.

Åhman, I., Glinwood, R. & Ninkovic, V. (2010) The potential for modifying plant volatile composition to enhance resistance to arthropod pests. CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources 5, No. 006     

Ninkovic, V., Glinwood, R. & Dahlin, I. (2009) Weed-barley interactions affect plant acceptance by aphids in laboratory and field experiments. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 133: 38-45

Ninkovic, V. & Åhman, I. (2009) Aphids acceptance of Hordeum genotypes is affected by volatile exposure and is correlated with aphid growth. Euphytica 169: 177-185 

 Bandara, K.A.N.P., Kumar, V., Ninkovic, V., Ahmed, E., Pettersson, J. & Glinwood, R. (2009) Can leek interfere with bean plant - bean fly interaction? Test of ecological pest management in mixed cropping. Journal of Economic Entomology 102: 999-1008. 

Glinwood, R., Ahmed, E., Qvarfordt, E., Ninkovic, V. & Pettersson, J. (2009) Airborne interactions between undamaged plants of different cultivars affect insect herbivores and natural enemies. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 3: 215–224

Pettersson, J., Ninkovic V., Glinwood R., Al Abassi S., Birkett M., Pickett J & Wadhams L. (2008) Chemical stimuli supporting foraging behaviour of Coccinella septempunctata L (Coleoptera:Coccinellidae): volatiles and allelobiosis – a mini review. Applied Entomology and Zoology 43: 315-321.

Ban L., Ahmed A., Ninkovic V., Delp G. & Glinwood (2008) Infection with an insect virus affects olfactory behaviour and interactions with host plant and natural enemies in an aphid. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 127: 108-117.

Amarawardana, L., Bandara, P., Kumar, V., Pettersson, J., Ninkovic, V. & Glinwood, R. (2007) Olfactory response of Myzus persicae (Homoptera: Ahididdae) to volatiles from leek and chive: Potential for intercropping with sweet pepper. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section B-Soil and Plant Science 57: 87-91.

Prinsloo, G., Ninkovic, V., van der Linde T. C., van der Westhuizen, A.J., Pettersson, J. & Glinwood, R. (2007) Test of semiochemicals and resistant wheat variety for Russian wheat aphid management in South Africa. Journal of Applied Entomology 131: 637-644.

Glinwood, R., Gradin, T., Kaprinska, B., Ahmed, E., Jonsson, L. M. V. & Ninkovic, V. (2007) Aphid acceptance of barley exposed to volatile phytochemicals differs between plants exposed in daylight and darkness. Plant Signaling and Behavior 2: 205-210.

Pettersson, J., Ninkovic, V., Glinwood, R., Birkett, M.A., & Pickett, J.A. (2005) Foraging in complex environment –semiochemicals support searching behaviour of the seven spot ladybird. European Journal of Entomology 102: 365-370.

Glinwood, R., Ninkovic, V., Pettersson, J. & Ahmed, E. (2004) Barley exposed to aerial allelopathy from thistles (Cirsium spp.) became less acceptable to aphids. Ecological Entomology 29: 188-195.

 Ninkovic, V., Ahmed, E., Glinwood, R & Pettersson, J. (2003) Effects of two types of semiochemicals on population development of the Bird Cherry Oat Aphid, Rhopalosiphum padi (L.) a in barely crop. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 5: 27-33.

Ninkovic, V. (2003) Volatile communication between barley plants affects biomass allocation. Journal of Experimental Botany 54: 1931-1939.

Ninkovic, V. & Pettersson. J. (2003) Searching behaviour of seven spotted ladybird, Coccinella septempunctata – effects of plant-plant odour interaction. OIKOS 100: 65-70.

Glinwood, R., Pettersson, J., Ahmed, E., Ninkovic, V., Birkett, M. & Pickett, J. (2003) Change in acceptance of barley plants to aphids after exposure to allelochemicals from couch-grass (Elytrigia repens). Journal of Chemical Ecology 29: 259-272.

Ninkovic, V., Olsson, U. & Pettersson, J. (2002) Mixing barley cultivars affects aphid host plant acceptance in field experiments. Entomologia Experimentalis at Applicata 102: 177-182.

Ninkovic, V., Al Albassi, A. & Pettersson, J. (2001) The influence of aphid-induced plants volatiles on ladybird beetle searching.  Biological Control 21: 191-195.

Pettersson, J., Ninkovic, V. & Ahmed, E. (1999) Volatiles from different barley cultivars affect aphid acceptance of neighbouring plants. Acta Agriculture Scandinavica Section B, Plant and Soil 49: 12-157.



Baluška, V. & Ninkovic, V. (eds) (2010) Plant Communication from an Ecological Perspective. Springer, Berlin.


Book chapters with international coverage

Ninkovic, V.  (2010) Volatile interaction between undamaged plants: a short cut to coexistence. In: Baluška, F. & Ninkovic, V. (eds) Plant Communication from an Ecological Perspective. Springer, Berlin. pp 75-86.

Åhman, I. & Ninkovic, V. (2010) Volatile interaction between undamaged plants: effects and potential for breeding resistance to aphids. In: Baluška, V. & Ninkovic, V. (eds) Plant Communication from an Ecological Perspective. Springer, Berlin pp 113-126.

Ninkovic, V., Glinwood, R. & Pettersson, J. (2006) Communication between undamaged plants by volatiles: the role of allelobiosis. In: Communication in Plants (eds.) F. Baluška, S. Mancuso & D. Volkmann. Springer-Verlag, Berlin. pp 421-434.




Senior Lecturer at the Department of Ecology; NJ, Agricultural Entomology Unit
Telephone: +4618672541, 0739842233
Postal address:
Inst för växtproduktionsekologi, Box 7043
750 07 UPPSALA
Visiting address: Ulls väg 16, Uppsala