About this Research Topic
Food production to feed a rapidly increasing human population is one of our greatest challenges. Expanding food production to satisfy this demand has led to substantial development and simplification of agricultural systems, creating monocultures that exacerbate yield losses due to a plethora of insect pests. The combined effects of the rapid evolution of pest resistance to chemicals, increased pressure from pest and invasive species due to climate change, an increasing organic food market and the negative impacts of chemical use on human health and the environment, has increased the need for sustainable and compatible pest management methods.
Biological control using parasitoids has received increased attention as it is cost effective and offers a management strategy that safeguards human health and the environment. In addition, insect parasitoids are, in many cases, a significant component of integrated pest management systems.
Insect parasitoids develop as parasites of other arthropods, ultimately leading to their death or sterility. A parasitoids’ reproductive success and their efficiency thus lies in their ability to counter behavioral and immune defenses of their hosts. These processes are shaped by co-evolution, which may explain changes in host range and the existence of host races within parasitoid species. Parasitoids may appear generalists, but careful ecological studies reveal a hidden complexity with an assemblage of populations having more restricted host ranges. Understanding the ecology and the evolutionary processes of parasitoids will enhance our knowledge of how these biological control agents can be used for the advancement of an integrated pest management.
This Research Topic will include studies aimed at elucidating ecological and evolutionary aspects of parasitoids. In particular, studies that include parasitoids adaptation to their local host community (for example genetic structure and host specialization), as well as the ecology and/or evolution of:
- Virulence genes in host acceptance by parasitoids;
- Sensory mechanisms in host acceptance by parasitoids;
- Host-range in parasitoids;
- Parasitoids’ biology and physiology in a context of climate change (including studies on the influence of climate change in host-parasitoid co-evolution).
The emphasis will also be on the implication of such studies for the use of parasitoids in biological control programs. Original papers, perspectives as well as mini-reviews are welcome.
Keywords: Biology, physiology, behavior, arthropods, biological control
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.