David Dussourd - Professor

david 200wide
Phone: 501-450-5921 (Office)
Address: Department of Biology, 180 Lewis Science Center, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR 72035
Email: dussourd@uca.edu


 Cluster Identification:
- Plant Interactions with Other Organisms Cluster

Research Areas/Expertise:
- Plant-Insect Interactions

Research Summary | Selected Publications | Lab Members | Key Collaborators | Research Projects | Links

Research Summary:

The Dussourd lab studies insect behavior, ecology, and the intriguing interactions between insects and plants.  Our research focuses on insect adaptations for circumventing plant defenses.  Folivorous insects commonly sever leaf veins, transect leaves with trenches, or cut girdles.  We use these behaviors as probes for understanding plant defenses and for isolating plant chemicals potentially useful in pest control.  Our research has primarily concerned defenses stored within elongate canal systems such as latex and resin canals, which have a widespread distribution in crops and horticultural plants such as lettuce, carrot, poinsettia, Lobelia, papaya and cassava.  Recent work has shifted to forestry and interactions between notodontid caterpillars and trees such as pecan and birch.

Selected Publications:

Dussourd, D.E. 2015. Theroa zethus caterpillars use acid secretion of anti-predator gland to deactivate plant defense.  PLoS ONE 10(10): e0141924. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141924

Hurley, K.W. and Dussourd, D.E. 2015. Toxic geranium trichomes trigger vein cutting by soybean loopers, Chrysodeixis includens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae).  Arthropod-plant interactions 9(1): 33-43

Ganong, C.N., Dussourd, D.E., and J.D. Swanson. 2012. Girdling by notodontid caterpillars: Distribution and occurrence. Arthropod-plant interactions 6: 621-633. 

Oppel, C.B., Dussourd, D.E., and U. Garimella. 2009. Visualizing a plant defense and insect counterploy: Alkaloid distribution in Lobelia leaves trenched by a plusiine caterpillar. J. Chem. Ecol. 35: 625-634.

Dussourd, D.E. 2009. Do canal-cutting behaviors facilitate host-range expansion by insect herbivores? Biol. J. Linnean Soc. 96: 715-731.

Dussourd, D.E. 2005. In the trenches: Bioprospecting with a caterpillar probe.  Wings: Essays in Invertebrate Conservation 28: 20-24.

Helmus, M.R.* and Dussourd, D.E.. 2005. Glues or poisons: Which triggers vein cutting by monarch caterpillars? Chemoecology15: 45-49.

Dussourd, D.E. 2003. Chemical stimulants of leaf-trenching by cabbage loopers: Natural products, neurotransmitters, insecticides, and drugs. J. Chem. Ecol. 29:2023-2047.

Lab Members:

David Dussourd, PhD,
University of Central Arkansas Professor,
Department of Biology


Kyle Hurley
Department of Biology- Instructor 

Key Collaborators

Gary Felton and Michelle Peiffer at Penn State

Julie Carrier at U. Arkansas, Fayetteville

Kyle Hurley at U. Central Arkansas

Research Projects

Insect adaptations to plant secretory canals

Approximately 8% of all plants store defensive fluids within elongate latex or resin canals.  Insects on these plants commonly sever leaf veins or cut trenches, thereby isolating the distal section where the insect feeds.  Vein cutting insects occur on plants such as milkweeds that have latex canals in an arborescent arrangement, whereas trenching insects feed on plants with canals in a net-like arrangement.  Remarkably, the canal systems and insect behaviors have each evolved repeatedly.  Economically-important insects include cabbage loopers and related plusiines that cut trenches in lettuce, parsley, cucumber, Lobelia, and their relatives.  We have used plusiine trenching behavior to identify natural products, insecticides, and drugs that trigger trenching.   The goal is to determine which of the multitude of chemicals in plants are truly significant to insect herbivores and to explore how these compounds can be used to reduce pest damage.

Girdling behavior by tree-feeding caterpillars

Notodontid caterpillars often cut a circular groove around stems or petioles of diverse trees including oak, hickory, birch, willow, cherry, and maple.  This previously undescribed behavior has a widespread distribution within the notodontids, an economically-important group of tree-feeding caterpillars.  Notodontids also commonly clip leaf petioles after feeding, thus allowing a partially eaten leaf to drop from the plant. Our goal is to identify exactly how girdling and leaf-clipping impact leaf defenses.  What cues trigger the behaviors and how do the behaviors affect plant physiology?