Evolutionary ecology of above-below-ground plant-animal interaction

Mechanistic Community Ecology, Soil Ecology

Which biotic and abiotic factors drive variation in species interactions remains a central question in ecology. In our lab we take advantage of natural variation in species interaction generated by ecological gradients, and we use different approaches, including field common gardens, behavioral assays, chemical and phylogenetic analyses to address this question. By studying multitrophic interactions in natural settings we aim at harnessing the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms of community assembly, and ultimately, we hope to use this fundamental knowledge for targeted application related to crop production and biological control of insect pests.

Recent Publications

  • Downregulation of the photosynthetic machinery and carbon storage signaling pathways mediate La2O3 nanoparticle toxicity on radish taproot formation
    Xiao, Zhenggao; Yue, Le; Wang, Chuanxi; Chen, Feiran; Ding, Ying; et al.
    Journal Of Hazardous Materials  10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.124971 Published: JUN 5 2021
  • The effect of community-wide phytochemical diversity on herbivory reverses from low to high elevation
    Fernandez-Conradi, Pilar; Defossez, Emmanuel; Delavallade, Adrien; Descombes, Patrice; Pitteloud, Camille; et al.
    Journal Of Ecology, 10.1111/1365-2745.13649, MAR 2021
  • Spatial and evolutionary predictability of phytochemical diversity
    Defossez, E; Pitteloud, C; Descombes, P; Glauser, G; Allard, PM; Walker, TWN; Fernandez-Conradi, P; Wolfender, JL; Pellissier, L; Rasmann, S
    Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America  10.1073/pnas.2013344118 JAN 19 2021
  • The structure of plant-herbivore interaction networks varies along elevational gradients in the European Alps
    Pitteloud, Camille; Walser, Jean-Claude; Descombes, Patrice; de Santana, Charles Novaes; Rasmann, Sergio; Pellissier, Loic
    Journal Of Biogeography  10.1111/jbi.14014 FEB 2021
  • Bioturbation by endogeic earthworms facilitates entomopathogenic nematode movement toward herbivore-damaged maize roots
    Fattore, S; Xiao, ZG; Godschalx, AL; Roder, G; Turlings, TCJ; Le Bayon, RC; Rasmann, S
    Scientific Reports 10.1038/s41598-020-78307-0 DEC 4 2020
  • Elevational gradients in constitutive and induced oak defences based on individual traits and their correlated expression patterns
    Galman, Andrea; Abdala-Roberts, Luis; Wartalska, Pola; Covelo, Felisa; Roder, Gregory; et al.
    Oikos 10.1111/oik.07588  DEC 2020
  • Apparent inhibition of induced plant volatiles by a fungal pathogen prevents airborne communication between potato plants
    Moreira, X; Granjel, RR; de la Fuente, M; Fernandez-Conradi, P; Pasch, V; Soengas, P; Turlings, TCJ; Vazquez-Gonzalez, C; Abdala-Roberts, L; Rasmann, S
    Plant Cell And Environment 10.1111/pce.13961  DEC 2020
  • Novel trophic interactions under climate change promote alpine plant coexistence
    Patrice Descombes; Camille Pitteloud; Gaëtan Glauser; Emmanuel Defossez; Alan Kergunteuil; Pierre-Marie Allard; Sergio Rasmann; Loïc Pellissier
    Science, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6523/1469   DEC 2020
  • Ecological convergence of secondary phytochemicals along elevational gradients
    Bakhtiari, Moe; Glauser, Gaetan; Defossez, Emmanuel; Rasmann, Sergio
    New Phytologist  DOI: 10.1111/nph.16966   OCT 2020
  • Contrasting responses of above- and below-ground herbivore communities along elevation
    Pitteloud, Camille; Descombes, Patrice; Sanchez-Moreno, Sara; Kergunteuil, Alan; Ibanez, Sebastien; et al.
    Oecologia  DOI: 10.1007/s00442-020-04778-7  NOV 2020
  • The effect of root-associated microbes on plant growth and chemical defence traits across two contrasted elevations
    Formenti, Ludovico; Caggia, Veronica; Puissant, Jeremy; Goodall, Tim; Glauser, Gaetan; et al.
    Journal Of Ecology  DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13440  JUN 2020
  • To bee or not to bee: The 'raison d'etre' of toxic secondary compounds in the pollen of Boraginaceae
    Trunz, Vincent; Lucchetti, Matteo A.; Benon, Dimitri; Dorchin, Achik; Desurmont, Gaylord A.; et al.
    Functional Ecology   DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13581 Published: JUL 2020
  • Ontogenetic consistency in oak defence syndromes
    Moreira, Xoaquin; Abdala-Roberts, Luis; Galman, Andrea; Bartlow, Andrew W.; Berny-Mier y Teran, Jorge C.; et al.
    Journal Of Ecology  DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13376   MAR 2020
  • A global database of soil nematode abundance and functional group composition
    van den Hoogen, Johan; Geisen, Stefan; Wall, Diana H.; Wardle, David A.; Traunspurger, Walter; et al.
    Scientific Data  DOI: 10.1038/s41597-020-0437-3   MAR 26 2020
  • Plant physical and chemical traits associated with herbivory in situ and under a warming treatment
    Descombes, Patrice; Kergunteuil, Alan; Glauser, Gaetan; Rasmann, Sergio; Pellissier, Loic
    Journal Of Ecology  DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13286   MAR 2020
  • Tritrophic interactions follow phylogenetic escalation and climatic adaptation
    Kergunteuil, Alan; Humair, Laureline; Maire, Anne-Laure; Fernanda Moreno-Aguilar, Maria; Godschalx, Adrienne; et al.
    Scientific Reports  DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-59068-2  FEB 7 2020
  • Variation in Below-to Aboveground Systemic Induction of Glucosinolates Mediates Plant Fitness Consequences under Herbivore Attack
    Bakhtiari, Moe; Rasmann, Sergio
    Journal Of Chemical Ecology  DOI: 10.1007/s10886-020-01159-5 FEB 2020
  • Modulation of above-belowground plant-herbivore interactions by entomopathogenic nematodes
    Li, Yang; Zhen, Shiyu; Shan, Shaojie; Sun, Bingjiao; Li, Jingjing; et al.
    Applied Soil Ecology,  DOI: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2019.103479, APR 2020
  • The effect of biochar amendment on N-cycling genes in soils: A meta-analysis
    Xiao, Zhenggao; Rasmann, Sergio; Yue, Le; Lian, Fei; Zou, Hua; et al.
    Science Of The Total Environment,  DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133984, Published: DEC 15 2019
  • Parallel increases in insect herbivory and defenses with increasing elevation for both saplings and adult trees of oak (Quercus) species
    Galman, Andrea; Abdala-Roberts, Luis; Covelo, Felisa; Rasmann, Sergio; Moreira, Xoaquin
    American Journal Of Botany,  DOI: 10.1002/ajb2.1388, Early Access: NOV 2019
  • Plant physical and chemical traits associated with herbivory in situ and under a warming treatment
    Descombes, P; Kergunteuil, A; Glauser, GG; Rasmann, S; Pellissier, L
    JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY,  https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.13286, OCT 2019
  • Inducibility of chemical defences in young oak trees is stronger in species with high elevational ranges
    Galman, Andrea; Petry, William K.; Abdala-Roberts, Luis; Butron, Ana; de la Fuente, Maria; et al.
    Tree Physiology,  DOI: 10.1093/treephys/tpy139, Published: APR 2019
  • Soil nematode abundance and functional group composition at a global scale
    van den Hoogen, J; Geisen, S; Routh, D; Ferris, H; Traunspurger, W; Wardle, DA; de Goede, RGM; Adams, BJ; Ahmad, W; Andriuzzi, WS; Bardgett, RD; Bonkowski, M; Campos-Herrera, R; Cares, JE; Caruso, T; Caixeta, LD; Chen, XY; Costa, SR; Creamer, R; Castro, JMD; Dam, M; Djigal, D; Escuer, M; Griffiths, BS; Gutierrez, C; Hohberg, K; Kalinkina, D; Kardol, P; Kergunteuil, A; Korthals, G; Krashevska, V; Kudrin, AA; Li, Q; Liang, WJ; Magilton, M; Marais, M; Martin, JAR; Matveeva, E; Mayad, E; Mulder, C; Mullin, P; Neilson, R; Nguyen, TAD; Nielsen, UN; Okada, H; Rius, JEP;
    Pan, K; Peneva, V; Pellissier, L; da Silva, JCP; Pitteloud, C; Powers, TO; Powers, K; Quist, CW; Rasmann, S; Moreno, SS; Scheu, S; Setala, H; Sushchuk, A; Tiunov, AV; Trap, J; van der Putten, W; Vestergard, M; Villenave, C; Waeyenberge, L; Wall, DH; Wilschut, R; Wright, DG; Yang, JI; Crowther, TW
  • Deicing Salt Pollution Affects the Foliar Traits and Arthropods' Biodiversity of Lime Trees in Riga's Street Greeneries
    Bouraoui, D; Cekstere, G; Osvalde, A; Vollenweider, P; Rasmann, S
    FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 7 10.3389/fevo.2019.00282 JUL 31 2019
  • Plant adaptation to different climates shapes the strengths of chemically mediated tritrophic interactions
    Kergunteuil, A; Humair, L; Munzbergova, Z; Rasmann, S
    FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY, 10.1111/1365-2435.13396 
  • Correlated Induction of Phytohormones and Glucosinolates Shapes Insect Herbivore Resistance of Cardamine Species Along Elevational Gradients
    Robert, CAM; Pellissier, L; Moreira, X; Defossez, E; Pfander, M; Guyer, A; van Dam, NM; Rasmann, S
    JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL ECOLOGY, 45 (7):638-648; 10.1007/s10886-019-01084-2 JUL 2019
  • The symbiotic bacteria Alcaligenes faecalis of the entomopathogenic nematodes Oscheius spp. exhibit potential biocontrol of plant- and entomopathogenic fungi
    Shan, SJ; Wang, WW; Song, CX; Wang, MG; Sun, BJ; Li, Y; Fu, YQ; Gu, XH; Ruan, WB; Rasmann, S
    MICROBIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY, 12 (3):459-471; 10.1111/1751-7915.13365 MAY 2019
  • Contribution of different predator guilds to tritrophic interactions along ecological clines
    Godschalx, AL; Rodriguez-Castaneda, G; Rasmann, S
    CURRENT OPINION IN INSECT SCIENCE, 32 104-109; SI 10.1016/j.cois.2019.01.002 APR 2019
  • Variable effects on growth and defense traits for plant ecotypic differentiation and phenotypic plasticity along elevation gradients
    Bakhtiari, M; Formenti, L; Caggia, V; Glauser, G; Rasmann, S
    ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 9 (7):3740-3755; 10.1002/ece3.4999 APR 2019
  • Mycorrhizal Fungi Enhance Resistance to Herbivores in Tomato Plants with Reduced Jasmonic Acid Production
    Formenti, L; Rasmann, S
    AGRONOMY-BASEL, 9 (3):10.3390/agronomy9030131 MAR 12 2019
  • Earthworms suppress thrips attack on tomato plants by concomitantly modulating soil properties and plant chemistry
    Xiao, ZG; Jiang, LH; Chen, XY; Zhang, Y; Defossez, E; Hu, F; Liu, MQ; Rasmann, S
    SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY, 130 23-32; 10.1016/j.soilbio.2018.11.023 MAR 2019
  • Evolutionary dynamics of specialisation in herbivorous stick insects
    Larose, Chloe; Rasmann, Sergio; Schwander, Tanja
    ECOLOGY LETTERS, 22 (2):354-364; 10.1111/ele.13197 FEB 2019
  • Environmental gradients and the evolution of tri-trophic interactions
    Kergunteuil, Alan; Roeder, Gregory; Rasmann, Sergio
    ECOLOGY LETTERS, 22 (2):292-301; 10.1111/ele.13190 FEB 2019
Sergio Rasmann

Prof. Dr. Sergio Rasmann
University of Neuchâtel
Institute of Biology
2000 Neuchâtel

Tel: +41 (0)32 718 23 37

Research topics

  • Plant-animal interactions
  • Community ecology along ecological gradients
  • Above-belowground interactions
  • Plant-herbivore-microbe interaction
  • Evolutionary ecology of plant defense strategies



  • Chemical ecology
  • Metabolomics
  • Genomics
  • Entomology
  • Soil ecology