Maximilien Cuny

Research interests

The importance of interactions among three trophic levels (plants / insect herbivores / natural enemies) in attempt to understand the functioning of ecosystems has been revealed about 30 years ago. They are still well studied in many contexts such as biological control, direct and indirect defense, behavioral ecology… Every single actor of these interactions can influence each other in many different ways.

Wild Lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus) is a model plant in the study of plant-plant communication, direct and indirect defenses, domestication… It is naturally present in Mexico, where its leaves and seeds attacked by several herbivores which are in turn attacked by parasitoids.

The aim of my thesis is to study the specificities of those two tritrophic interactions involving wild Lima bean in order to unravel the impact of every actor on each other.


Cuny, M.A.C., Traine, J., Bustos-Segura, C. & Benrey, B. (2019). Host density and parasitoid presence interact and shape the outcome of a tritrophic interaction on seeds of wild lima bean. Sci. Rep.

Bustos-Segura, C., Cuny, M.A.C. & Benrey, B. (2019). Parasitoids of leaf herbivores enhance plant fitness and do not alter caterpillar-induced resistance against seed beetles. Fuctional Ecol.

Cuny, M.A.C., La Forgia, D., Desurmont, G.A., Glauser, G. & Benrey, B. (2019). Role of cyanogenic glycosides in the seeds of wild lima bean, Phaseolus lunatus: defense, plant nutrition or both? Planta, 250, 1281–1292.

Cuny, M.A.C., Gendry, J., Hernández-Cumplido, J. & Benrey, B. (2018). Changes in plant growth and seed production in wild lima bean in response to herbivory are attenuated by parasitoids. Oecologia, 187, 447–457.

Shlichta, J.G., Cuny, M.A.C., Hernandez-Cumplido, J., Traine, J. & Benrey, B. (2018). Contrasting consequences of plant domestication for the chemical defenses of leaves and seeds in lima bean plants. Basic Appl. Ecol., 31, 10–20.

Cuny, M.A.C., Shlichta, J.G. & Benrey, B. (2017). The large seed size of domesticated lima beans mitigates intraspecific competition among seed beetle larvae. Front. Ecol. Evol., 5, 145.

Moreira, X., Abdala-Roberts, L., Hernandez-Cumplido, J., Cuny, M.A.C., Glauser, G. & Benrey, B. (2015). Specificity of induced defenses, growth, and reproduction in lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus) in response to multispecies herbivory. Am. J. Bot., 102, 1300–1308.

Maximilien Cuny

Assistant doctorant



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