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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Induction of plant defenses: the added value of zoophytophagous predators

Perez-Hedo, Meritxell; Bouagga, Sarra; Zhang, Nina Xiaoning; Moerkens, Rob; Messelink, Gerben; Jaques, Josep A.; Flors, Victor; Broufas, George; Urbaneja, Alberto; Pappas, Maria L.


Several biological control agents of the hemipteran insect families Miridae, Anthocoridae and Pentatomidae, as well as mites of the family Phytoseiidae are known as zoophytophagous predators, a subset of omnivores, which are primarily predaceous but also feed on plants. It has been recently demonstrated that zoophytophagous predators are capable of inducing defenses in plants through their phytophagy. Despite the vast fundamental knowledge on plant defense mechanisms in response to herbivores, our understanding of defense induction by zoophytophagous predators and applied implications is relatively poor. In this review, we present the physiological basis of the defense mechanisms that these predators activate in plants. Current knowledge on zoophytophagous predator-induced plant defenses is summarized by groups and species for the predators of economic importance. Within each group, feeding habits and the effects of their induced-plant defenses on pests and natural enemies are detailed. Also, the ecological implications of how the induction of defenses mediated by zoophytophagous predators can interact with other plant interactors such as beneficial soil microorganisms and plant viruses are addressed. Based on the above, we propose three approaches to exploit zoophytophagous predator-induced defenses in crop protection and to guide future research. These include using predators as vaccination agents, employing biotechnological approaches, as well as applying elicitors to elicit/mimic predator-induced defenses.


Phytophagy; Omnivory; Volatiles; Plant resistance; Biological control; Defense elicitors

Published in

Journal of Pest Science
2022, volume: 95, number: 4, pages: 1501-1517

Authors' information

Pérez-Hedo, Meritxell
Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA)
Bouagga, Sarra
Koppert Spain SL
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Moerkens, Rob
Biobest Group
Messelink, Gerben
Wageningen University and Research
Jaques, Josep A.
Universitat Jaume I
Flors, Victor
Universitat Jaume I
Broufas, George
Democritus University of Thrace
Urbaneja, Alberto
Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA)
Pappas, Maria L.
Democritus University of Thrace

Associated SLU-program

SLU Network Plant Protection

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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