Dr Margriet van Asch

Postdoctoral Research Associate

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Research interests

My research interests are in the field of population biology. I am currently working together with Charles Godfray and Julia Ferrari, investigating the effects of symbiotic bacteria on their insect hosts, using the  pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum and its facultative symbionts, Hamiltonella defensa and Regiella insecticola as model system. These symbionts have previously been shown to increase resistance to parasitoids and to a fungal pathogen, as well as to affect other life history traits of pea aphid. Yet these bacteria are facultative symbionts, occurring in some but not all populations of pea aphid. This in contract to the obligate symbiont Buchnera. In addition, the effects of the symbiont may depend on either symbiont or host genotype (or both). Within this project I am therefore looking how symbiont and host genotype affect aphid fitness, as well as looking at the longer term population dynamical consequences of the symbionts.
Before moving to Oxford, I did my PhD at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Heteren, The Netherlands. During my PhD I worked on plant-herbivore interactions, especially focusing on timing of emergence of an insect herbivore (Operopthera brumata) in relation to its host plant (Quercus robur).

Selected publications

  • Van Asch, M, PH van Tienderen, LJM Holleman & M.E. Visser 2007 Predicting adaptation of phenology in response to climate change, an insect herbivore example. Global Change Biology, 13: 1596-1604.
  • Van Asch, M & ME Visser 2007 Phenology of forest caterpillars and their host trees: the importance of synchrony. Annual Review of Entomology 52: 37-55.