Automated video tracking of thrips behavior to assess host-plant resistance in multiple parallel two-choice setups

Manus P.M. Thoen*, Karen J. Kloth, Gerrie L. Wiegers, Olga E. Krips, Lucas P.J.J. Noldus, Marcel Dicke, Maarten A. Jongsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Piercing-sucking insects cause severe damage in crops. Breeding for host-plant resistance can significantly reduce the yield losses caused by these insects, but host-plant resistance is a complex trait that is difficult to phenotype quickly and reliably. Current phenotyping methods mainly focus on labor-intensive and time-consuming end-point measurements of plant fitness. Characterizing insect behavior as a proxy for host-plant resistance could be a promising time-saving alternative to end-point measurements. Results: We present a phenotyping platform that allows screening for host-plant resistance against Western flower thrips (WFT, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande)) in a parallel two-choice setup using automated video tracking of thrips behavior. The platform was used to establish host-plant preference of WFT with a large plant population of 345 wild Arabidopsis accessions and the method was optimized with two extreme accessions from this population that differed in resistance towards WFT. To this end, the behavior of 88 WFT individuals was simultaneously tracked in 88 parallel two-choice arenas during 8 h. Host-plant preference of WFT was established both by the time thrips spent on either accession and various behavioral parameters related to movement (searching) and non-movement (feeding) events. Conclusion: In comparison to 6-day end-point choice assays with whole plants or detached leaves, the automated video-tracking choice assay developed here delivered similar results, but with higher time- and resource efficiency. This method can therefore be a reliable and effective high throughput phenotyping tool to assess host-plant resistance to thrips in large plant populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalPlant Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Arabidopsis
  • Automated video tracking
  • High-throughput phenotyping
  • Host-plant resistance
  • Western flower thrips
  • 016-3910


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