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Evolutionary Ecology of Plant-Arthropod Interactions in Light of the “Omics” Sciences: A Broad Guide

  • De-la-Cruz, Ivan M.1
  • Batsleer, Femke2
  • Bonte, Dries2
  • Diller, Carolina1
  • Hytönen, Timo3, 4
  • Muola, Anne1, 5
  • Osorio, Sonia6
  • Posé, David6
  • Vandegehuchte, Martijn L.2, 7
  • Stenberg, Johan A.1
  • 1 Department of Plant Protection Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp , (Sweden)
  • 2 Terrestrial Ecology Unit, Department of Biology, Ghent University, Ghent , (Belgium)
  • 3 Department of Agricultural Sciences, Viikki Plant Science Centre, University of Helsinki, Helsinki , (Finland)
  • 4 NIAB EMR, West Malling , (United Kingdom)
  • 5 Biodiversity Unit, University of Turku, Finland , (Finland)
  • 6 Departamento de Biología Molecular y Bioquímica, Instituto de Hortofruticultura Subtropical y Mediterránea “La Mayora”, Universidad de Málaga-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Campus de Teatinos, Málaga , (Spain)
  • 7 Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim , (Norway)
Published Article
Frontiers in Plant Science
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Apr 25, 2022
DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2022.808427
  • Plant Science
  • Mini Review


Aboveground plant-arthropod interactions are typically complex, involving herbivores, predators, pollinators, and various other guilds that can strongly affect plant fitness, directly or indirectly, and individually, synergistically, or antagonistically. However, little is known about how ongoing natural selection by these interacting guilds shapes the evolution of plants, i.e., how they affect the differential survival and reproduction of genotypes due to differences in phenotypes in an environment. Recent technological advances, including next-generation sequencing, metabolomics, and gene-editing technologies along with traditional experimental approaches (e.g., quantitative genetics experiments), have enabled far more comprehensive exploration of the genes and traits involved in complex ecological interactions. Connecting different levels of biological organization (genes to communities) will enhance the understanding of evolutionary interactions in complex communities, but this requires a multidisciplinary approach. Here, we review traditional and modern methods and concepts, then highlight future avenues for studying the evolution of plant-arthropod interactions (e.g., plant-herbivore-pollinator interactions). Besides promoting a fundamental understanding of plant-associated arthropod communities’ genetic background and evolution, such knowledge can also help address many current global environmental challenges.

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