African anti-thrips plant
A plant in Kew’s Temperate House has been found to contain compounds toxic to thrips.
28 Mar 2012
An infestation of western flower thrips has caused ‘silvering’ on the petals of this flower of Crotalaria capensis (Image: Alison Scott-Brown)
Thrips are serious economic pests on a wide range of crops grown around the world, causing damage to both plants and fruit through feeding, reproduction and the transmission of plant tospoviruses. Rapid spread in the global distribution of some thrips species has led to records of plant hosts increasing at a rate which exceeds both the increase in our knowledge of host plant selection and the development of control agents or control strategies to eliminate or contain emerging thrips populations.
Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) and glasshouse thrips (Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis) are key species that continue to escape the controls currently used to protected crops in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. Both frequently cause damage to their numerous host plants grown in the glasshouse collections at Kew.
Temperate House survey reveals plant toxic to thrips
A study at Kew was undertaken to record the morphological and chemical characteristics of plant species in the Temperate House that remained free from thrips attack. The foliage of one species in particular, Sclerochiton harveyanus (Acanthaceae), an evergreen shrub native to south eastern Africa, appeared to be toxic to thrips. Analysis of leaf extracts revealed the presence of iridoids, including four new compounds in this group.
Bioassays indicated that some of these were toxic to Frankliniella occidentalis and deterred Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis from feeding. Understanding the mechanisms involved in plant resistance to thrips could lead to the develpoment of new thrips control measures in environments where current techniques have limited success.
Item from Dr Alison Scott-Brown (Research Entomologist, RBG Kew)
Kew Scientist, issue 40
Scott-Brown, A. S., Veitch, N. C. & Simmonds, M. S. J. (2011). Leaf chemistry and foliage avoidance by the thrips Frankliniella occidentalis and Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis in glasshouse collections. Journal of Chemical Ecology 37: 301–310.
Help Kew break new ground and inspire new generations
By making a donation to Kew today you can help our scientists to find out more about the fascinating world of plants, break new ground and inspire generations of young people to get to know plants better.
Our scientific programmes are focused on understanding plants and conserving the world's plant life and habitats at risk. Plants are essential to life on earth. In a world where the sustainability of the planet’s rich biodiversity is becoming less certain, Kew’s science work is ever more critical. Find out how your donation can make a difference.
Browse Kew news
- In the Gardens
- Science and conservation
- How you are helping
- Specialist science
- Kew blogs
- All Kew news
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
- around the world
- the UK
- at risk
- ground breaking
- needs help
- english heritage
- Kew overseas
- verge of extinction
- wet tropics
- gifts that help
- South East Asia
- of use
- hot spot
- english garden
Kew on twitter
Unable to parse the data in the RSS file.