Chemical signals involved in plant-insect interactions

Chemical Ecology

Plants under attack by herbivores initiate the production and release of volatiles that are attractive to the natural enemies of the herbivores.  Aboveground these volatile signals can attract parasitic wasps and predators that attack and kill the herbivores. Belowground such signals are attractive to insect-killing nematodes. The signals are also perceived by neighboring plants, which may then mobilize their own defenses.  We aim to unravel the chemical and molecular mechanisms that are involved in these interactions, as well as understand their ecological consequences.  By studying cultivated plant and their wild ancestors we hope to develop methods to better exploit the natural defense signals for optimal crop protection.


Recent Publications

  • Effects of early-season insect herbivory on subsequent pathogen infection and ant abundance on wild cotton (Gossypium hirsutum)
    Abdala-Roberts, L; Nino, BP; Moreira, X; Parra-Tabla, V; Grandi, L; Glauser, G; Benrey, B; Turlings, TCJ
    JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY, 107 (3):1518-1529; 10.1111/1365-2745.13131 MAY 2019
  • Airborne host-plant manipulation by whiteflies via an inducible blend of plant volatiles
    Zhang, PJ; Wei, JN; Zhao, C; Zhang, YF; Li, CY; Liu, SS; Dicke, M; Yu, XP; Turlings, TCJ
  • Photorhabdus khanii subsp. guanajuatensis subsp. nov., isolated from Heterorhabditis atacamensis, and Photorhabdus luminescens subsp. mexicana subsp. nov., isolated from Heterorhabditis mexicana entomopathogenic nematodes
    Machado, RAR; Bruno, P; Arce, CCM; Liechti, N; Kohler, A; Bernal, J; Bruggmann, R; Turlings, TCJ
  • Protecting maize from rootworm damage with the combined application of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, Pseudomonas bacteria and entomopathogenic nematodes
    Jaffuel, G; Imperiali, N; Shelby, K; Campos-Herrera, R; Geisert, R; Maurhofer, M; Loper, J; Keel, C; Turlings, TCJ; Hibbard, BE
    SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 9 10.1038/s41598-019-39753-7 FEB 28 2019
  • Molecular detection and quantification of slug parasitic nematodes from the soil and their hosts
    Jaffuel, G; Puza, V; Hug, AS; Meuli, RG; Nermut, J; Turlings, TCJ; Desurmont, GA; Campos-Herrera, R
    JOURNAL OF INVERTEBRATE PATHOLOGY, 160 18-25; 10.1016/j.jip.2018.11.005 JAN 2019
  • Can Herbivore-Induced Volatiles Protect Plants by Increasing the Herbivores' Susceptibility to Natural Pathogens?
    Gasmi, L; Martinez-Solis, M; Frattini, A; Ye, M; Collado, MC; Turlings, TCJ; Erb, M; Herrero, S
  • The evaluation of entomopathogenic nematode soil food web assemblages across Switzerland reveals major differences among agricultural, grassland and forest ecosystems
    Jaffuel, G; Blanco-Perez, R; Hug, AS; Chiriboga, X; Meuli, RG; Mascher, F; Turlings, TCJ; Campos-Herrera, R
    AGRICULTURE ECOSYSTEMS & ENVIRONMENT, 262 48-57; 10.1016/j.agee.2018.04.008 JUL 15 2018
  • Root-colonizing bacteria enhance the levels of (E)-beta-caryophyllene produced by maize roots in response to rootworm feeding (vol 187, pg 459, 2018)
    Chiriboga, MX; Guo, HJ; Campos-Herrera, R; Roder, G; Imperiali, N; Keel, C; Maurhofer, M; Turlings, TCJ
    OECOLOGIA, 187 (2):469-469; 10.1007/s00442-018-4104-8 JUN 2018
  • Root-colonizing bacteria enhance the levels of (E)-beta-caryophyllene produced by maize roots in response to rootworm feeding
    Chiriboga, MX; Guo, HJ; Campos-Herrera, R; Roder, G; Imperiali, N; Keel, C; Maurhofer, M; Turlings, TCJ
    OECOLOGIA, 187 (2):459-468; JUN 2018
  • Development of Asian parasitoids in larvae of Drosophila suzukii feeding on blueberry and artificial diet
    Girod, P; Rossignaud, L; Haye, T; Turlings, TCJ; Kenis, M
    JOURNAL OF APPLIED ENTOMOLOGY, 142 (5):483-494; 10.1111/jen.12496 JUN 2018
  • Parasitic Wasps Can Reduce Mortality of Teosinte Plants Infested With Fall Armyworm: Support for a Defensive Function of Herbivore-Induced Plant Volatiles
    de Lange, ES; Farnier, K; Degen, T; Gaudillat, B; Aguilar-Romero, R; Bahena-Juarez, F; Oyama, K; Turlings, TCJ
    FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 6 10.3389/fevo.2018.00055 MAY 18 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
  • Priming of cowpea volatile emissions with defense inducers enhances the plant's attractiveness to parasitoids when attacked by caterpillars 
    Sobhy, Islam S.; Bruce, Toby J. A.; Turlings, Ted C. J.
    PEST MANAGEMENT SCIENCE, 74 (4): 966-977 APR 2018
  • Fine-tuning the 'plant domestication-reduced defense' hypothesis: specialist vs generalist herbivores 
    Gaillard, Mickael D. P.; Glauser, Gaetan; Robert, Christelle A. M.; et al. 
    NEW PHYTOLOGIST, 217 (1): 355-366 JAN 2018
  • 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
  • Improved separation by at-column dilution in preparative hydrophilic interaction chromatography 
    Jaffuel, Geoffrey; Chappuis, Laura; Guillarme, Davy; et al. 
    JOURNAL OF CHROMATOGRAPHY A, 1532: 136-143 JAN 12 2018
  • With or without you: Effects of the concurrent range expansion of an herbivore and its natural enemy on native species interactions 
    Carrasco, David; Desurmont, Gaylord A.; Laplanche, Diane; et al. 
    GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY, 24 (2): 631-643 FEB 2018
Turlings Ted

Prof. Dr. Ted Turlings
University of Neuch√Ętel
Institute of Biology
2000 Neuch√Ętel

Tel: +41 (0)32 718 31 58

Research topics

  • Plant-insect interactions
  • Induced plant defenses
  • Evolutionary ecology of tritrophic interactions
  • Assessment of transgenic crops



  • Crop protection 
  • Applied entomology 
  • Agroecology
  • Metabolomics
  • Biodiversity