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John Tooker

address: 501 Asi Building
location: Agricultural Sciences
phone: 814-865-7082
department: Entomology


Ecology of Plant-Insect Interactions

We are interested in interactions between plants and plant-feeding insects. Plants may be rooted to the ground, but they are far from helpless victims and use a remarkable array of tactics to defend themselves from insects and other attackers. We study different aspects of plant-insect interactions, using a combination of laboratory and field work with both agriculturally important crop plants and native plant species. We are interested in the defensive pathways triggered by different types of plant-feeding insects including the ability of plants to recruit bodyguards (e.g., predatory insects) that can kill feeding insects. We are also interested in how insect species find their preferred host-plant species and whether this preference is influenced by other insect species. Our research tools tend to include behavioral bioassays, feeding trials, and analyses of plant chemistry. The ultimate goal of our lab is to better understand how populations of plant-feeding insects are regulated so that we may develop ecologically sound insect pest management tactics.

Number of undergraduates needed: 2
Minimum qualifications: Applicants need to be enthusiastic, motivated, and reliable