Pennsylvania State University, US

Gary W. Felton is Professor and Head of the Department of Entomology at Pennsylvania State University, USA. He is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine (BS), University of Kentucky (MS) and the University of California, Davis (PhD). Felton’s research focuses on mechanisms of plant defense and the adaptations that herbivorous insects use to avoid them. This research has uncovered unique ways in which insect herbivores use salivary secretions and microbes to suppress the induced responses of their host plants and has been published in journals such as Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He has published more than 130 refereed papers, including numerous review articles for book chapters and journals such as Plant Physiology, Annual Review of Phytopathology, Current Opinion in Plant Biology, and Annual Plant Reviews. He was elected a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America in 2014 and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Chemical Ecology.

Keynote talk: The role of microbes in mediating plant-insect interactions – Benefit or betrayal?
Outline: All plant-herbivore interactions occur in a microbial context. Herbivore-associated microbes may benefit herbivores through supplementing herbivore nutrition, assisting in digestion, aiding in detoxification of plant defenses, and/or priming their immune systems. One aspect of microbial mediation of plant-herbivore interactions that has been overlooked is the ability of microbes to alter the perception of herbivores by their host plants. Plants recognize herbivore feeding cues found in their saliva and oral secretions and use these cues to mount defensive responses against herbivores. We will present evidence that an array of microbes associated with herbivores (bacteria, fungi, baculoviruses, and polydnaviruses) can alter the recognition of these cues in ways that may benefit or betray the herbivore. Ultimately these microbes mediate both herbivore and plant immunity.

Tuesday 4 December, 13:20-14:05