Bean plants and evolution (WP 2.3)

Bean plants together with their associated phytophagous insects and the natural enemies of these herbivores form a trophic system that has co-evolved during several thousand years, which has resulted in highly specific adaptations in each of these organisms. To survive, the plant can either fend off several herbivorous insect species via toxic substances (direct effect) or use odours to attract the pests' enemies (indirect effect) such as parasitoids that lay their eggs in the pests' larvae.

Domesticated plants have been subjected to artificial selection and therefore differ greatly from their wild relatives: they have a higher nutrient content and show a better resistance to pests and pathogens. This research aims to examine the consequences of bean domestication for the interactions between phytophagous insects and parasitic wasps.

By comparing the way domesticated varieties and their wild relatives react to host plant / parasitoid interactions, researchers want to better understand  the natural selection process.  Beans represent an important human food source, especially in developing countries, and a good understanding of the relationships among associated organisms is likely to lead to better crop protection.




senior scientists


  • F. Alvarez (Agroscope ART Reckenholz)

Ph.D students

  • R. Brechbühl (Fribourg)
  • J. Hernandez (Neuchâtel)
  • S. Kenyon (Neuchâtel)
  • Ch. Lüthi (Agroscope ART Reckenholz)
  • T. Plüss (Fribourg)
  • D. Schneider (Neuchâtel)
  • I. Zaugg (Fribourg)