Thrips advisor: Exploiting thrips-induced defences to combat pests on crops

Merel Steenbergen, Ahmed Abd-El-Haliem, Petra Bleeker, Marcel Dicke, Rocio Escobar-Bravo, Gang Cheng, Michel A. Haring, Merijn R. Kant, Iris Kappers, Peter G.L. Klinkhamer, Kirsten A. Leiss, Saioa Legarrea, Mirka Macel, Sanae Mouden, Corné M.J. Pieterse, Sandeep J. Sarde, Robert C. Schuurink, Martin De Vos, Saskia C.M. Van Wees*, Colette Broekgaarden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Plants have developed diverse defence mechanisms to ward off herbivorous pests. However, agriculture still faces estimated crop yield losses ranging from 25% to 40% annually. These losses arise not only because of direct feeding damage, but also because many pests serve as vectors of plant viruses. Herbivorous thrips (Thysanoptera) are important pests of vegetable and ornamental crops worldwide, and encompass virtually all general problems of pests: they are highly polyphagous, hard to control because of their complex lifestyle, and they are vectors of destructive viruses. Currently, control management of thrips mainly relies on the use of chemical pesticides. However, thrips rapidly develop resistance to these pesticides. With the rising demand for more sustainable, safer, and healthier food production systems, we urgently need to pinpoint the gaps in knowledge of plant defences against thrips to enable the future development of novel control methods. In this review, we summarize the current, rather scarce, knowledge of thrips-induced plant responses and the role of phytohormonal signalling and chemical defences in these responses. We describe concrete opportunities for breeding resistance against pests such as thrips as a prototype approach for next-generation resistance breeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1837-1848
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2018


  • Cell-content feeder
  • effectors
  • herbivorous insect
  • phytohormone signalling
  • plant defence
  • specialized metabolites
  • thrips
  • virus
  • volatiles


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