ENT-30306 Ecological Aspects of Bio-interactions


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work2
Course coordinator(s)dr. M Kos
prof. dr. M Dicke
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. M Dicke
prof. dr. ir. RAA van der Vlugt
dr. J van Ruijven
dr. ir. VID Ros
dr. EH Poelman
dr. ir. GHJ Kema
dr. ir. L Bastiaans
prof. dr. W de Boer
Prof. dr. ir. GB De Deyn
dr. ir. J Helder
Examiner(s)prof. dr. M Dicke

Language of instruction:


Mandatory knowledge:

ZSS06100 Laboratory Safety

Assumed knowledge on:

Basic knowledge on biology and ecology is assumed

Continuation courses:

MSc thesis Centre for Crop Systems Analysis, Entomology, Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation, Nematology, Phytopathology, Soil  Biology, and Virology.


The course focuses on bio-interactions between invertebrates (arthropods, nematodes), micro-organisms and plants, and between beneficial organisms and pathogens and their hosts in natural and agro-ecosystems. The major themes covered in the lectures include biodiversity, interaction and communication between organisms, including different trophic levels, fundamental mechanisms underlying bio-interactions, and ecosystem services. We concentrate on intra- and interspecific interactions and application of this knowledge to explore, monitor and evaluate (agro-)ecosystem management strategies using biodiversity principles, often referred to as functional biodiversity.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand interactions between individual organisms, and their consequences for populations, communities and ecosystems;
- understand the role of biodiversity in provision of ecosystem services;
- explore, develop and evaluate management strategies and practices that enable and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and conservation of biodiversity;
- manage the interactions between crops, (parasitic) weeds, insects, bacteria, fungi, viruses and nematodes at different trophic levels;
- strengthen the inherent quality of agro-ecosystems in preventing pest and disease development with a socio-economic context;
- carry out a research project: formulate research questions and a project proposal, design an experiment, carry out experimental work, collect and record data, analyse results, write a scientific publication and present the results in a mini-symposium.


The first part of the course (2.5 weeks) consists of lectures by specialist teachers in which concepts of bio-interactions and functional biodiversity will be covered, and various examples will be demonstrated with the aid of audiovisual means. Model simulations will be carried out. The lectures will provide the theoretical basis for the mini-research projects. During the second part of the course (3.5 weeks), mini-research projects will be conducted at the different chair groups and involve experimental design, research implementation, data analysis and report writing. The results of the experiments will be presented orally in a seminar and on paper in the format of a scientific paper for an interdisciplinary audience.


The final mark will be based on a multiple choice exam (50%) concerning the lectures and on the evaluation of the overall performance during the mini-research project (50%).


All relevant information is available in Brightspace

Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScD: Spec. D - Ecology1AF
MOAOrganic AgricultureMScA: Spec. A - Agroecology1AF
MPSPlant SciencesMScE: Spec. E - Plant Pathology and Entomology1AF
MPSPlant SciencesMScC: Spec. C - Natural Resource Management1AF