Secondary metabolites in plant-herbivore interactions

How well plants interact with the biotic and abiotic environment determines their survival in nature and yield in agriculture. We elucidate the strategies that plants employ to resist biotic stresses, with a particular focus on the role of plant secondary metabolites in root herbivore interactions. By combining different techniques and plant models in an interdisciplinary approach, we aim at generating a flow of knowledge from single genes to ecological interactions across a gradient from wild systems to agriculture.


Recent Publications

  • Volatiles as inducers and suppressors of plant defense and immunity - origins, specificity, perception and signaling
    Erb, M
    CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY, 44 117-121; 10.1016/j.pbi.2018.03.008 AUG 2018
  • Whole-genome-based revisit of Photorhabdus phylogeny: proposal for the elevation of most Photorhabdus subspecies to the species level and description of one novel species Photorhabdus bodei sp nov., and one novel subspecies Photorhabdus laumondii subsp clarkei subsp nov.
    Machado, RAR; Wuthrich, D; Kuhnert, P; Arce, CCM; Thonen, L; Ruiz, C; Zhang, X; Robert, CAM; Karimi, J; Kamali, S; Ma, J; Bruggmann, R; Erb, M
  • OsLRR-RLK1, an early responsive leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinase, initiates rice defense responses against a chewing herbivore
    Hu, Lingfei; Ye, Meng; Kuai, Peng; et al.
    NEW PHYTOLOGIST  219(3)SI: 1097-1111  AUG 2018
  • Root exudate metabolites drive plant-soil feedbacks on growth and defense by shaping the rhizosphere microbiota
    Lingfei Hu, Christelle AM Robert, Selma Cadot, Xi Zhang, Meng Ye, Beibei Li, Daniele Manzo, Noemie Chervet, Thomas Steinger, Marcel GA van der Heijden, Klaus Schlaeppi & Matthias Erb
    NATURE COMMUNICATIONS 9: 2738   10.1038/s41467-018-05122-7 JUL 16 2018
  • Promises and challenges in insect-plant interactions
    Giron, D; Dubreuil, G; Bennett, A; Dedeine, F; Dicke, M; Dyer, LA; Erb, M; Harris, MO; Huguet, E; Kaloshian, I; Kawakita, A; Lopez-Vaamonde, C; Palmer, TM; Petanidou, T; Poulsen, M; Salle, A; Simon, JC; Terblanche, JS; Thiery, D; Whiteman, NK; Woods, HA; Pincebourde, S
    ENTOMOLOGIA EXPERIMENTALIS ET APPLICATA, 166 (5):319-343; SI 10.1111/eea.12679 MAY 2018
  • An herbivore-induced plant volatile reduces parasitoid attraction by changing the smell of caterpillars
    Ye, M; Veyrat, N; Xu, H; Hu, LF; Turlings, TCJ; Erb, M
    SCIENCE ADVANCES, 4 (5):10.1126/sciadv.aar4767 MAY 2018
  • Plant Defenses against Herbivory: Closing the Fitness Gap 
    Erb, Matthias 
    TRENDS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 23 (3): 187-194 MAR 2018 Review (Details)
  • Plant Defenses against Herbivory: Closing the Fitness Gap 
    Erb, Matthias 
    TRENDS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 23 (3): 187-194 MAR 2018 Review (Details)
  • Tritrophic Interactions Mediated by Herbivore-Induced Plant Volatiles: Mechanisms, Ecological Relevance, and Application Potential 
    Turlings, Ted C. J.; Erb, Matthias 
    ANNUAL REVIEW OF ENTOMOLOGY, VOL 63, 63: 433-452 2018 Review; Book Chapter (Details)
  • Neighbourhood effects determine plant-herbivore interactions below-ground 
    Huang, Wei; Zwimpfer, Elias; Herve, Maxime R.; et al. 
    OURNAL OF ECOLOGY, 106 (1): 347-356 JAN 2018 Article (Details)
Matthias Erb

Prof. Dr. Matthias Erb
University of Bern
Institute of Plant Sciences
3013 Bern

Tel: +41 (0)31 631 86 68

Research topics

  • Biosynthesis of plant secondary metabolites
  • Herbivore foraging behavior
  • Herbivore detoxification of plant metabolites



  • Phytochemistry and genetics of maize (Zea mays)
  • Phytochemistry and molecular biology of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Behavior and metabolism of root herbivores (Diabrotica virgifera, Melolontha melolontha)
  • Environmental RNAi of insects