Insect-Plant Interactions

Type: Posgtgraduate course / Elective
Specialisation: Plant Sciences and Environment
Course coordinator: Maria L. Pappas
Semester: 2
ECTS: 7.5
Teaching Staff: M. Pappas, G. Broufas and invited lecturers

Tel: +30 25520 41151 / 25520 41154

Working hours with students: upon request (via email)

Course description:
The course covers topics on the ecology and evolution of insect – plant interactions such as the ways plants recognize herbivores and defend themselves against them, with particular emphasis on mechanisms of plant resistance to herbivory. Furthermore, it covers the ways beneficial insects (pollinators and natural enemies) are attracted to plants. The ecological and evolutionary implications of insect-plant coevolution are analyzed through the presentation of significant case studies (case studies). The ecological effects of insect – plant interactions are studied at the community level. Finally, reference is made to the applied aspects of studies on insect – plant interactions in plant protection.

Course webpage:
Course e-class:

Only registered users have access to the course material (lecture notes, course papers, announcements etc). The relevant material is available in the file “Documents” of each year’s User Group.

Course books*:
– L.M. Schoonhoven, J.J.A. van Loon & M. Dicke (2005) Insect-Plant Biology. Oxford University Press. 421 p.
– Α. Schaller (2010) Induced Plant Resistance to Herbivory. Springer. Berlin. 462 p.
– Voelckel C. & G. Jander (2014) Insect-Plant Interactions. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK.
*Additional literature sources are available to students through e-class.

Learning Outcomes:
Upon successful completion of the course the students will be able to understand:
– the basic principles underlying insect – plant interactions
– the effects of insect – plant interactions at the organism and population level
– the practical implications of these effects and the ways they can be applied in plant protection

– Written exams at the end of the semester
– Literature review assignment

Final grade (1+2):
1. Written test: 7/10
2. Review assignment: weighing 3/10

Weekly course schedule Week Topic Staff

Introduction to insect-plant interactions, importance, general definitions.
Plant characteristics that shape insect – plant relationships (chemical traits)
Plant characteristics that shape insect – plant relationships (morphological traits)
Plants as insect food source (nutrients, utilization, symbiotic microorganisms)
Host plant selection by herbivores
Plant defense against herbivores (I)
Plant defense against herbivores (II)
Ecology of insect-plant interactions
Evolution of insect-plant interactions
Beneficial insects (pollinators, natural enemies) in insect-plant interactions
Experimental protocols in insect-plant interactions studies (I)
Experimental protocols in insect-plant interactions studies (II)
Applied aspects of insect-plant interactions studies

Literature review & oral presentation

Written exams