The Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS)


WEES seminar – Associate Professor Angela M. Smilanich2018-10-01T14:26:19+01:00

WEES seminar –  Angela M. Smilanich

‘Defining the effectiveness of insect immunity within ecological parameters’

It will be hosted on zoom and can be accessed via the following link: (Meeting ID: 873 8104 6626 and Passcode: 436097)


Associate Professor Angela M. Smilanich,
Biology Department, University of Nevada, USA

The insect immune response has been shown to be effective at protecting insects against internal enemies. However, the generality of this effectiveness is difficult to ascertain given the many variables that influence the strength of the immune system. The research presented here focuses on the immune system in caterpillars, and the role that it plays in defending caterpillars from parasitoids and pathogens. We were also interested in how plant traits alter immunity, changing its effectiveness, and thus shaping interactions with natural enemies. Using a variety of study systems, we determined that 1) the immune system protects against parasitoid enemies, but appears to be less effective against viral enemies, 2) plant chemical traits suppress the caterpillar immune response, leading to vulnerability against parasitoids and 3) even though plant chemistry suppresses the caterpillar immune response, it leads to greater protection against viral infection by lowering virus loads. These results show that while the immune response is an important defense, insects must rely on an arsenal of defenses against the great diversity of natural enemies.

WEES background & call for new members
WEES is an initiative of PhD students and postdocs at Wageningen University to organize a continuing series of stimulating seminars on contemporary topics in evolution and ecology. For this series we invite researchers from all over the world who have leading roles in their field. We aim to bring together different groups at Wageningen University using a variety of systems, but with a common interest in evolutionary and ecological questions. WEES is funded by graduate schools PE&RC, WIMEK, EPS, VLAG, and WIAS.

Interested in joining the WEES committee and organizing seminars yourself? WEES is looking for new members!. We aim for a broad and diverse range in topics and would like to welcome new members to help and include topics not represented yet. If you are curious, send an email to and join one of our meetings.

For more information please visit: www.weeswageningen.nlLike us on Facebook, or join the Facebook Group for more participation.

Thursday, September 17, 2020
17:30 - 18:30