Xavier Chiriboga

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)

Nairobi, Kenya

Basic and applied research on sustainable control of Fall armyworm in Africa




Reserarch interests

I am interested in the chemical ecology of insect-plant, insect-insect and insect-natural enemies interactions and how to exploit the understanding of these relationships for environmentally friendly pest management strategies.

My actual doctorate project focus on ecological aspects that influence the functionality of a belowground herbivore induced plant volatile (HIPV’s) in a maize-root herbivore system. It is known that maize roots respond to feeding by diabroticine beetle larvae by releasing (E)-β-caryophyllene. This insect-induced root volatile attracts entomopathogenic nematodes and (e.g. Heterorhabditis megidis) thereby helps to protect the plant against the root herbivore damage.

In my study, I explore how soil properties like soil texture and humidity content affect the efficiency of the (E)-ß-caryophyllene signal and the attraction to Heterorhabditis megidis. I also investigate the possibility of using entomopathogenic nematodes in combination with root colonizing bacteria of the genus Pseudomonas (with oral insecticidal activity) in the biocontrol of root feeders and in the enhancement of plant performance. Finally, I look at the effects of root bacterial colonization on the production of (E)-β-caryophyllene, on the interaction of maize roots with D. balteata and on maize plant traits (e.g. terpene synthase induction and biomass). I addressed these questions using techniques such as bioassays, GC-MS and qPCR.



Chiriboga M., X, Campos-Herrera, R., Jaffuel, G., Roder, G. Turlings, T.C.J. 2017. Diffusion of the maize root signal (E)-β-caryophyllene in soils of different textures and the effects on the migration of the entomopathogenic nematode Heterorhabditis megidis. Rhizosphere. 3:53-59. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rhisph.2016.12.006

Jaffuel, G., Mader, P., Blanco-Perez, R., Chiriboga, X., Fliessbach, A., Turlings, T.C.J., Campos-Herrera, R. 2016. Prevalence and activity of entomopathogenic nematodes and their antagonists in soils that are subject to different agricultural practices. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 230: 329-340. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2016.06.009

Campos-Herrera, R., Jaffuel, G., Chiriboga, X., Blanco-Perez, R., Fesselet, M., Puza, V., Mascher, F., Turlings, T.C.J. 2015. Traditional and molecular detection methods reveal intense interguild competition and other multitrophic interactions associated with native entomopathogenic nematodes in Swiss tillage soils. 389: 237-255. DOI: 10.1007/s11104-014-2358-4


Chiriboga, X. 2008. Effects of plant quality on densities and sizes of herbivores, parasitoids and hyperparasitoids. MSc. Thesis. Wageningen University and Research Center. Wageningen, The Netherlands. Supervisor and Examiner : Tibor Bukovinsky and Marcel Dicke.


Chiriboga M., X., Oleas, A., Falconi, C. 2003. Determinacion del tiempo de sobrevivencia de tres bacterias antagonicas de Moniliophthora roreri sobre mazorcas de cacao mediante tecnicas serologicas. Memorias del XXVI Congreso de Control Biologico, Guadalajara, Mexico, 2003.

Xavier Chiriboga




+41 32 718 31 62

Bureau D123