About this Research Topic
Plant-feeding predatory arthropods are important components of natural and agricultural settings capable of exploiting both animal (prey) and plant food. This special feeding behavior not only allows predators to benefit from diet mixing but also enables their maintenance in the ecosystem in periods when prey is absent or scarce.
Plant-feeding predatory arthropods include predatory insects of different families such as the Miridae, Anthocoridae, Nabidae, Syrphidae, Chrysopidae and Coccinellidae as well as predatory mites of the family Phytoseiidae. These are polyphagous predators preying on diverse insect and mite species such as aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, moth eggs and larvae while also exploiting plant food such as pollen, nectar or plant sap.
Biological pest control is the most important ecosystem service provided by predators. The intimacy of plant-feeding predators in particular with the host plant may provide unique opportunities for additional beneficial services such as the ability to pollinate plants. Furthermore, the exploitation of plant food when prey populations are declining or crops are absent may expand biocontrol services by plant-feeding predators in time.
On the other hand, plant-feeding predators may be more directly affected by landscape structure compared to strict predators. The conservation of this type of predators in agroecosystems is a key aspect in sustainable agriculture. In addition, they may be actively involved in plant-microbe interactions and plant-mediated interactions with herbivores and other plant-feeding predators suggesting that their impact in biocontrol may be more strongly affected by plant-related factors compared to strict predators.
Despite the importance and wide distribution of plant-feeding predators in diverse ecosystems, research so far has mainly focused on their ability to consume plant pests in laboratory and field studies.
With this Research Topic we aim to bring together ecologists, evolutionary biologists, behavioral ecologists, plant physiologists, microbiologists and molecular biologists working on plant-feeding predators and their interactions with other organisms. We believe that such interactions may help explain and potentially improve provided ecosystem services provided by plant-feeding predators. In addition, we are interested to highlight unexplored ecosystem benefits as well as dis-services such as plant damage or pathogen transmission. We also encourage the submission of manuscripts focusing on indirect effects and hope to identify novel tools in the use of plant-feeding predators in biological pest control.
The following article types are particularly welcomed: Original Research, Reviews, and Opinions.
Keywords: Plant-feeding predators, biocontrol, omnivory, pollination, predator-plant interactions
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