Plant invasion and biological control

Invasion ecology, the study of the distribution and spread of organisms in habitats to which they are not native, has received considerable attention during the past decades. This is mainly a consequence of the increased awareness of the major threats posed by invasions to biodiversity, ecosystem integrity, agriculture and human health. Non-native species have become integral components of ecosystems world-wide, and understanding the causes and consequences of biological invasions has emerged as a fundamental challenge to ecologists and evolutionary biologists. Evidence is increasing that invasive plants can undergo rapid adaptive evolution during the process of range expansion. We expect that evolutionary change during invasions will affect plant-antagonist interactions and thus have important implications for biological control programs targeted at invasive plants. We specifically explore how altered selection in the new range might influence the evolution of plant defense (resistance and tolerance) and life cycle and how this might affect subsequent biological control efficacy.

  • Polyploidy and invasion success
  • Sustainable management of weeds and plant invaders (Centaurea, Ambrosia, Rumex)
  • Biological control of invasive plants using insects and fungi
  • Local adaptation and trophic interaction

► Google Scholar:

  • Earlier sowing combined with nitrogen fertilization to adapt to climate change effects on yield of winter wheat in arid environments: Results from a field and modeling study,
    Moghaddam H, Oveisi M, Mehr MK, Bazrafshan J, Naeimi MH, Kaleibar BP, Müller-Schärer H. 2022.
    European Journal of Agronomy, 146, 126825,, download

  • When a plant invader meets its old enemy abroad: what can be learnt from accidental introductions of biological control agents.
    Müller-Schärer H, Sun Y, Schaffner U. 2023.
    Pest Management Science,

  • Epiblema minutana (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae) in Israel: Promise or Peril?
    Augustinus BA, Nussbaum N, Yair Y, Harari A, Yaacoby T, Müller-Schärer H, Schaffner U, Rubin B. 2023.
    Management of Biological Invasions 14 (in press); download

  • Climate change impact on herbicide efficacy: a model to predict herbicide dose in common bean under different moisture and temperature conditions.
    Rastgordani F, Oveisi M, Mashhadi HR, Naeimi MH, Hosseini NM, Asadian N, Bakhshian A, Müller-Schärer H. 2023.
    Crop Protection, 163, 106097 download

  • Competitive interactions affect larval survival of two root-boring weed biological control candidates of Rumex spp.
    Klötzli J, Suter M, Lüscher A, Müller-Schärer H, Schaffner U.
    BioControl (2022).

  • Clonal functional traits favor the invasive success of alien plants into native communities.
    Wang YJ, Liu YY, Chen D, Du D, Müller-Schärer H, Yu FH. 2022.
    Ecological Applications, e2756; doi:10.1002/eap.2756

  • Intercropping sweet corn with summer savory to increase weed suppression and yield.
    Naderi R, Bijani F, Weyl P, and Mueller-Schaerer H. 2022.
    Weed Technology, 36(4): 544-547. doi:10.1017/wet.2022.54

  • Uncovering the hologenomic basis of an extraordinary plant invasion.
    Bieker VC, Battlay P, Petersen B, Sun X, Wilson J, Brealey JC, Bretagnolle F, Nurkowski K, Lee V, Owens GL, Lee JY, Kellner FL, Boheeman L, Gopalakrishnan S, Gaudeul M, Mueller-Schaerer H, Karrer G, Chauvel B, Sun Y, Dalen L, Poczai P, Rieseberg LH, Gilbert MTP, Hodgins KA, Martin MD. 2022.
    Science Advances, 8, eabo5115

  • Fighting neobiota with neobiota: consider it more often and do it more rigorously.
    Sun Y, Müller-Schärer H, Schaffner U. 2022.
    Biological Conservation, .

  • Climate warming can reduce biocontrol efficacy and promote plant invasion due to both genetic and transient metabolomic changes.
    Sun Y, Züst T, Silvestro D. Erb M, Bossdorf O, Mateo P, Robert C, Mueller-Schaerer H. 2022.
    Ecology Letters 25, 1387-1400

  • Integrated weed management in grasslands.
    Schaffner U, Müller-Schärer H, Lüscher A. 2022.
    In: Advances in integrated weed management. Burleigh Dodds. ISBN 978-1-78676-745-5; Kudsk, Per (Ed)

  • Ground-truthing predictions of a demographic model driven by land surface temperatures with a weed biocontrol cage experiment.
    Augustinus BA, Blum M, Citterio S, Gentili R, Helman D, Nestel D, Schaffner U, Müller-Schärer H, Lensky IM. 2022.
    Ecological Modelling 466 1098.

  • High Phenotypic Plasticity in a Prominent Plant Invader along Altitudinal and Temperature Gradients
    Gentili, Rodolfo; Ambrosini, Roberto; Augustinus, Benno A.; Caronni, Sarah; Cardarelli, Elisa; et al.
    Plants-basel 10.3390/plants10102144  OCT 2021
  • Population differentiation in response to temperature in Ophraella communa: Implication for the biological control of Ambrosia artemisiifolia
    Litto, Maria; Bouchemousse, Sarah; Schaffner, Urs; Mueller-Schaerer, Heinz
    Biological Control DOI 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2021.104777, DEC 2021
  • Absence of genetic differentiation in performance traits of Sinapis arvensis populations from crop and non-crop habitats across Northern Algeria: Implications for management
    Benchaa, Sara; Bouchemousse, Sarah; Abdelkrim, Hacene; Mueller-Schaerer, Heinz
    Weed Research DOI10.1111/wre.12481  AUG 2021
  • Bean cultivar mixture allows reduced herbicide dose while maintaining high yield: A step towards more eco-friendly weed management
    Oveisi, Mostafa; Kaleibar, Behnaz Pourmorad; Mashhadi, Hamid Rahimian; Mueller-Scharer, Heinz; Bagheri, Ali; et al.
    European Journal Of Agronomy,  DOI: 10.1016/j.eja.2020.126173  JAN 2021
  • Potential for endozoochorous seed dispersal by sheep and goats: Risk of weed seed transport via animal faeces
    Oveisi, Mostafa; Ojaghi, Ahmad; Rahimian Mashhadi, Hamid; Muller-Scharer, Heinz; Reza Yazdi, Kamran; et al.
    Weed Research,  DOI: 10.1111/wre.12461  FEB 2021
  • Is biocontrol efficacy rather driven by the plant or the antagonist genotypes? A conceptual bioassay approach
    Sun, Yan; Beuchat, Carine; Mueller-Schaerer, Heinz
    Neobiota,  DOI: 10.3897/neobiota.63.54962  DEC 8 2020
  • Rapid genomic and phenotypic change in response to climate warming in a widespread plant invader
    Sun, Yan; Bossdorf, Oliver; Grados, Ramon D.; Liao, ZhiYong; Mueller-Schaerer, Heinz
    Global Change Biology,  DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15291  NOV 2020
Heinz Müller-Schärer

Prof. em. Dr. Heinz Müller-Schärer
University of Fribourg
Department of Biology
1700 Fribourg

Tel: +41 (0)26 300 88 35

  • Biological invasions
  • Biodiversity restoration
  • Plant-pathogen/insect interactions
  • Plant ecology and evolution
  • Local adaptations in plants