Yosra Chabaane

Research interests

Plant domestication has resulted in a suite of morphological and physiological traits that distinguish crops from their wild ancestors. In crop plants, selection is generally aimed at reducing levels of unwanted constituents such as toxic or bitter compounds and increasing levels of nutrients such as proteins. Ecologists are increasingly aware that these changes have major consequences for the interactions with other organisms. One particular interesting system is that of chili peppers, which have been selected for either increased or for decreased levels of capsaicin, the secondary metabolite responsible for the pungency trait. Insect pests in agricultural systems are often well adapted to the altered traits, but for the unique chili system this has never been studied and the ecological consequences of chili domestication remain unknown. I propose to examine how domestication has altered the resistance of chili against herbivorous insects, as well as the effects on the natural enemies of these herbivores. Specifically, I aim to determine whether changes in capsaicinoids has an impact on plant resistance to two herbivores, the generalist Spodoptora latifascia and the specialist Anthonomus eugeniiand their respective parasitoids Euplecterus platyphenae  and Catolacus hunteri. To test this, I will use different techniques (behavioral, chemical and  molecular) to study a range of cultivated varieties and wild populations. A better understanding of the impact of chili domestication on plant resistance can lead to novel pest control strategies, including biological control with parasitoids.



Chabaane, Y., Laplanche, D., Turlings, T.C.J. & Desurmont, G.A.(2015) Impact of exotic insect herbivores on native tritrophic interactions: a case study of the African cotton leaf worm, Spodoptera littoralis and insects associated with the field mustard Brassica rapa. Journal of Ecology,103,109–117

Yosra Chabaane




+41 32 718 31 62

Bureau D123