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Paul G. Becher

Paul Becher
2015 Associate professor in Chemical Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. 2006 Dr sc. nat., University of Zürich, Switzerland. 2001 Diploma in Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany.

Presentation

Chemical ecology contributes to a functional understanding of specialized metabolites, which can be developed for application in plant protection. 

For example, understanding the possibility to modulate insect behaviour with semiochemicals such as pheromones provides a great basis to develop sustainable methods for insect pest control.

For me it is fascinating to observe and to understand how trace amounts of chemical compounds modulate insect behaviour, or the growth of plants and microorganisms.
In addition, I have a strong interest in biological pest control through application of microorganisms or beneficial insects.

One of my main goals is to combine the knowledge and tools of chemical ecology and biological pest control in research and plant protection.

I am especially interested in plant protection within horticultural production systems. In recent years a focus of my research was on Drosophila suzukii, an invasive pest and major problem for berry production. Another focus is on the control of pests and pathogens by use of hoverflies and microbial agents.

At SLU, I am part of the operational group of the SLU Center for Biological Control (CBC), and representative of the Department of Plant Protection Biology for SLU Horticulture.
I am subject editor for the Journal of Pest Science and review editor for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (subject chemical ecology).

Teaching

I am currently involved as teacher or course leader in about a dozen courses at SLU. For example, I am course responsible for the advanced course Practical Research Training (BI1347), and co-responsible for the Plant Protection, Basic Course (BI1364) and the course Agroecology Basics (LB0108). Moreover, I’m responsible for plant protection education in the courses (BI1309) Horticultural Systems and Future Challenges, and the course Product Development and Innovation Systems in Horticulture (FÖ0435).

Together with our partner institutions Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Penn-State University and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) at Nairobi, I am organizer of the PhD course in insect chemical ecology at SLU Alnarp.

My teaching experience from outside SLU relates to Helsinki University, Lund University; University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg; University of Neuchâtel, University of Zürich, ETH Zürich, Penn-State University and ICPE.

Currently, I am developing a new SLU course on practical plant protection in parks and green environments.
Together with Rainer Meyhöfer, I established an ERASMUS agreement with the Institute of Horticultural Production Systems at the Leibniz University Hannover for developing new educational links.

Research

I study the behavioural activity and ecological relevance of chemical compounds emitted by microbes, plants and insects.

I work with pests and beneficial organisms. Current research emphases are on the invasive fly Drosophila suzukii , and the application of beneficial flies and microbial agents for biological control of pests and pathogens.

I am part of the SLU Centre for Biological Control (CBC) operational group.

My research is supported by SLU, research councils and foundations such as Formas, the SLU Platform for Plant Protection, the Linnaeus project ICE-3 (Formas, SLU), the Crafoord Foundation, Plantlink, the Swedish farmers’ foundation for agricultural research (SLF), CBC, KSLA.

Background

My diploma studies in biology focused on ecolgy, limnology, microbiology and landscape management. I initially investigated food quality effects (lipds) and chemical defense mechanisms (neurotoxic alkaloids) of aquatic microbes on invertebrates. 

Since 2006, I work on insect sensory physiology and behaviour and aim to combine basic research with the development of sustainable control methods for (horticultural) insect pests.

In 2012, I established my own research group. Since 2015, I combine research on chemical ecology and biocontrol.

My main expertise is on chemical ecology, pest control, chemical analyses, behavioural assays, biocontrol, entomology and microbiology.

Supervision

Currently main supervisor of the PhD students Guillermo Rehermann, Charles Kwadha and Maria Sousa.

Co-supervision for completed doctoral degree: Saveer Ahmed (SLU, 2012),  Felipe Borrero-Echeverry (SLU, 2016), Francisco Gonzalez (SLU, 2017), Julia Lindén (SLU, 2020), Andreas Naundrup Hansen (University of Copenhagen, 2021).

Main supervisor of postdocs: Dr. Vasiliki Verschut (2013-2015), Dr. Santosh Revadi, (2014-2020), Dr. Bradley Dotson (2015-2017), Amrita Chakraborty (2016-2018).

Selected publications

(Complete list further down)
Rehermann G, Spitaler U, Sahle K, Cossu CS, Delle Donne L, Bianchi F, Eisenstecken D, Angeli S, Schmidt S, Becher PG 2021 Behavioral manipulation of Drosophila suzukii for pest control: high attraction to yeast enhances insecticide efficacy when applied on leaves. Pest Management Science  https://doi.org/10.1002/ps.6699

Revadi SV, Giannuzzi VA, Rossi V, Hunger GM, Conchou L, Rondoni G, Conti E, Anderson P, Walker WB, Jacquin-Joly E, Koutroumpa F, Becher PG 2021 Larval stage specific expression of an odorant receptor correlates with differential olfactory behaviors in Spodoptera littoralis caterpillars. BMC Biology 19, 231

Stenberg JA, Sundh I, Becher PG, Björkman C, Dubey M, Egan PA, Friberg H, Gil JF, Jensen DF, Jonsson M, Karlsson M, Khalil S, Ninkovic V, Rehermann G, Vetukuri RR, Viketoft M 2021 When is it biological control? A framework of definitions, mechanisms, and classifications. Journal of Pest Science 94, 665–676

Kwadha CA, Okwaro LA, Kleman I, Rehermann G, Revadi S, Ndlela S, Khamis FM, Nderitu PW, Kasina M, George MK, Kithusi GG, Mohamed SA, Lattorff HMG, Becher PG 2021 Detection of the spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, in continental Sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Pest Science 94, 251–259

Becher PG, Verschut V, Bibb MJ, Bush MJ, Molnár BP, Barane E, Al-Bassam MM, Chandra G, Song L, Challis GL, Buttner MJ, Flärdh K 2020 Developmentally regulated volatiles geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol attract a soil arthropod to Streptomyces bacteria promoting spore dispersal. Nature Microbiology doi.org/10.1038/s41564-020-0697-x

Becher PG, Lebreton S, Wallin EA, Hedenström E, Borrero-Echeverry F, Bengtsson M, Jörger V, Witzgall P 2018 The scent of the fly. Journal of Chemical Ecology 8, 2962–2974

Mori BA, Whitener AB, Leinweber Y, Revadi S, Beers EH, Witzgall P, Becher PG 2016 Enhanced yeast feeding following mating facilitates control of the invasive fruit pest Drosophila suzukii. Journal of Applied Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12688

Hamby KA, Becher PG 2016 Current knowledge of interactions between Drosophila suzukii and microbes, and their potential utility for pest management. Journal of Pest Science 89, 621–630

Kromann SH, Saveer AM, Binyameen M, Bengtsson M, Birgersson G, Hansson BS, Schlyter F, Witzgall P, Ignell R, Becher PG 2015. Concurrent modulation of neuronal and behavioural olfactory responses to sex and host plant cues in a male moth. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282, 20141884

Stensmyr MC, Dweck HKM, Farhan A, Ibba I, Strutz A, Mukunda L, Linz J, Grabe V, Steck K, Lavista-Llanos S, Wicher D, Sachse S, Knaden M, Becher PG, Seki Y, Hansson BS. 2012. A conserved dedicated olfactory circuit for detecting harmful microbes in Drosophila. Cell, 151, 1345–1357.

Becher PG, Flick G, Rozpędowska E, Schmidt A, Hagman A, Lebreton S, Larsson MC, Hansson BS, Piškur J, Witzgall P, Bengtsson M. 2012. Yeast, not fruit volatiles mediate Drosophila melanogaster attraction, oviposition and development. Functional Ecology, 26, 822–828

Saveer AM, Kromann SH, Birgersson G, Bengtsson M, Lindblom T, Balkenius A, Hansson BS, Witzgall P, Becher PG, Ignell R. 2012. Floral to green - mating switches moth olfactory coding and preference. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 279, 2314–2322

Link to Paul G. Becher's publication list in SLU Pub


Contact

Senior Lecturer at the Institutionen för växtskyddsbiologi
Telephone: +4640-415305
Postal address:
Växtskyddsbiologi, Box 190
234 22 LOMMA
Visiting address: Sundsvägen 16, Alnarp

Publications list: