Jessica Hughes

Postgraduate Researcher Genes in the Environment

Jess’ research aims to improve oilseed rape tolerance and resistance to cabbage stem flea beetle (CSFB) herbivory.

The CSFB is a pest of most Brassicacea but is particularly problematic for oilseed rape.

Restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and confirmation of resistance to alternative pyrethroid pesticides has led to a dramatic rise in CSFB numbers in the UK. As a result, farmers have been left with no viable control for CSFB and are increasingly concerned about growing oilseed rape in the future.

As a major UK crop, reduction in the growing area of oilseed rape would be detrimental to the economy and UK farming. Previous research into brassica resistance traits to CSFB and the CSFB life cycle is inconclusive and requires updating.

Utilising a captive population of CSFB in the John Innes Centre insectary, Jess’ project will address the following aims; a) Identify variation in feeding preferences of adult CSFB in oilseed rape, b) Identify variation in survival of larval CSFB in oilseed rape, c) Reveal underlying genetic differences governing a) and b), d) Improve understanding of CSFB feeding behaviour and life cycle.