Analyzing spatial patterns linked to the ecology of herbivores and their natural enemies in the soil

R. Campos-Herrera, J. G. Ali, B. M. Diaz, L. W. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Modern agricultural systems can benefit from the application of concepts and models from applied ecology. When understood, multitrophic interactions among plants, pests, diseases and their natural enemies can be exploited to increase crop production and reduce undesirable environmental impacts. Although the understanding of subterranean ecology is rudimentary compared to the perspective aboveground, technologies today vastly reduce traditional obstacles to studying cryptic communities. Here we emphasize advantages to integrating as much as possible the use of these methods in order to leverage the information gained from studying communities of soil organisms. PCR-based approaches to identify and quantify species (real time qPCR and next generation sequencing) greatly expand the ability to investigate food web interactions because there is less need for wide taxonomic expertise within research programs. Improved methods to capture and measure volatiles in the soil atmosphere in situ make it possible to detect and study chemical cues that are critical to communication across trophic levels. The application of SADIE to directly assess rather than infer spatial patterns in belowground agroecosystems has improved the ability to characterize relationships between organisms in space and time. We review selected methodology and use of these tools and describe some of the ways they were integrated to study soil food webs in Florida citrus orchards with the goal of developing new biocontrol approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number378
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Issue numberSEP
StatePublished - Sep 30 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science


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