I am a plant ecologist, with a strong background in evolutionary biology. The intricate interaction between plants and herbivores has always fascinated me and driven me to explore the factors affecting and underlying such interactions. Plants have evolved a broad range of incredible traits to fight against and withstand the damage inflicted by herbivores; such traits confer resistance and tolerance to plants, respectively. These two plant defense strategies have a key role in mediating plant-herbivore interactions and even plant-herbivore-enemy interactions. Resistance and tolerance vary in their relative importance depending on the herbivore in question, and can differentially affect the amount of damage received and subsequent recovery by plants. Understanding which plant defense strategies are relevant for which herbivores can provide us with the plant protection toolbox of dreams: A reservoir of knowledge that allows implementation of strategies based on the types of damage that plants are able to resist and recover from.
In my research, I focus on understanding the ecology of plant defenses in order to improve current practices, but also implement novel plant protection strategies. I am interested in intrinsic plant defences (those stemming directly from plant traits) and indirect defense (mediated through enemies of herbivores or other extrinsic factors).
Currently, my main focus is on exploring the role of plant defenses in mediating interactions between pine weevils (Hylobius abietis) and conifer seedlings. However, I am involved in a broad range of projects including the interaction of plants and herbivores in different systems including clover plants, willows and even natural enemies of herbivores such as omnivorous arthropods.
Please check my CV page at SLU for more information: https://www.slu.se/en/ew-cv/adriana-puentes/