Michael Kristensen

Associate professor

Michael Kristensen
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Evolution-proof pest management

Agricultural pests (weeds, insect pests, diseases and viruses) evolve in response to crop cultivation. Future pest management can benefit from integration of ecological and evolutionary principles to predict long-term responses of pest populations to changing pest management, agricultural environment and climate. This project will provide the biological basis for more evolutionary-enlightened pest management in which management principles are supported by evolutionary biology. We will expand our basic knowledge of the genetic variation of pest organisms to assess the potential for adaptation. We will focus on the evolutionary dynamics of selection for resistance rather than describing the physiological and molecular basis of pesticide resistance. To shed light on the principles behind the adaption of pest organisms to different management systems, we will study the evolution of resistance (i) in beetles (Meligethes aenus,Ceutorhynchus pallidactylus, Ceutorhynchus obstrictus) on rapeseed treated with pyrethroid and neonicotinoid insecticides, (ii) in the weed silky bent grass (Apera spica-venti) treated with ALS-inhibiting herbicides, and (iii) in the plant pathogen septoria (Mycophaerella graminicola) treated with ergosterol inhibiting fungicides. We will use molecular tools, e.g. transcriptome analysis, to follow the microevolutionary process of resistance development in field, semi-field and laboratory experiments and identify the effect of major and minor resistance genes on the fitness of resistant and susceptible phenotypes. The ambition is to combine management,genetic variation and fitness data in models to predict and prevent resistance development.

 

Insecticide resistance and microevolution.

Resistance is a major global problem facing public health and agriculture and resistance has been found in hundreds of insect species. Resistance is microevolution or instant evolution, where the genetic composition of populations is change dramatically in just a few generations.

The aim of the research in insecticide resistance and toxicology is to develop and implement resistance management strategies, which ensure specific and limited use of insecticides by conserving insecticide susceptible genes in pest populations. Future directions of the research will primarily involve molecular biology methods looking at the origin, frequency and importance of resistance genes of veterinary and medically important insects including house flies (Musca domestica), German cockroaches (Blattella germanica), head lice (Pediculus capitis) and bed bugs (Cimex lectularius).

 

Culicoides barcoding.

Biting midges are vectors of various diseases, e.g. the viral disease bluetongue which affects domesticated ruminant livestock. Culicoides biting midges are small and the present taxonomy is based on morphological traits that require highly specialized and specific knowledge of insect morphology. We have established DNA barcoding methods based on the sequence variation of the mitochondrial COI gene and intergenic transcribed spacer of ribosomal DNA. We study the phylogenetic relationships of Nordic biting midges as well as identify their bloodmeal host by molecular techniques.

 

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