Landscape ecology and expanding range of biocontrol agent taxa enhance prospects for diamondback moth management. A review

  • Geoff M. Gurr
  • Olivia L. Reynolds
  • Anne C. Johnson
  • Nicolas Desneux
  • Myron P. Zalucki
  • Michael J. Furlong
  • Zhenyu Li
  • Komivi S. Akutse
  • Junhui Chen
  • Xiwu Gao
  • Minsheng You
Review Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Pest control


Diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) is a globally significant pest of Brassicaceae crops that has attracted enormous research investment. It is typical of many agricultural pests, with insecticides remaining the most common method of control, despite frequent cases of resistance in pest populations and the potential for other management options such as natural enemies to provide suppression. Here we review scope to make better use of neglected natural enemy taxa and integrate recent work on landscape ecology to identify opportunities for more effective pest suppression. Our main findings are as follows: (1) relatively neglected taxa of natural enemies, especially predators and entomopathogens, are now attracting growing levels of research interest, although parasitoids remain most frequently used and researched; (2) knowledge of the spatio-temporal dynamics of populations at the landscape scale have advanced rapidly in the last decade; (3) ecological insights open new possibilities for exploiting spatial heterogeneity at scales larger than individual fields and even farms that influence pests and their natural enemies; (4) there is evidence for landscapes that selectively favor particular guilds and this knowledge could be developed to favor targeted natural enemies over pests in focal crops; and (5) landscape-scale effects can even over-ride field-scale management practices. The significance of these advances is that future management of diamondback moth and similar pests will benefit from a move away from reliance on the use of particular species of biological control agents, especially exotic parasitoids, and strategies that depend on use of broad-spectrum insecticides. Together with this move, we call for greater use of area-wide management that exploits the potential of landscapes to promote diverse assemblages of natural enemy species.


Plutella xylostella Conservation biological control Habitat management Donor habitat Landscape connectivity Area-wide management Bacillus thuringiensis Entomopathogen Predator Parasitoid 



We acknowledge the input of David Perovic & Sagrario Gamez-Virues in the early stages of planning this review.

Funding information

This project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31230061 and No. 31320103922). GMG was supported by the National Thousand Talents Fellowship, the Advanced Talents of SAEFA in China and a Graham Centre Research Fellowship. ND was supported by the project EUCLID (H2020-SFS-2014, grant number: 633999). OLR was supported by a Jinshan Scholar Fellowship at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University (FAFU), China. KSA was supported as a postdoctoral fellow by the National Thousand Talents Fellowship at FAFU, China. Grants CS2/1998/089, HORT/2002/062, HORT/2004/063 and HORT/2010/090 from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) have supported diamondback moth research by MJF and MPZ in China, Democratic Republic of Korea, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.


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© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, duplication, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoff M. Gurr
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Olivia L. Reynolds
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  • Anne C. Johnson
    • 4
  • Nicolas Desneux
    • 6
  • Myron P. Zalucki
    • 7
  • Michael J. Furlong
    • 7
  • Zhenyu Li
    • 8
  • Komivi S. Akutse
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 10
  • Junhui Chen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xiwu Gao
    • 9
  • Minsheng You
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Ecological Pest Control for Fujian and Taiwan Crops, Institute of Applied EcologyFujian Agriculture and Forestry UniversityFuzhouChina
  2. 2.Joint International Research Laboratory of Ecological Pest Control, Ministry of EducationFuzhouChina
  3. 3.Fujian-Taiwan Joint Innovation Centre for Ecological Control of Crop PestsFujian Agriculture and Forestry UniversityFuzhouChina
  4. 4.Graham Centre (an alliance between NSW Department of Primary Industries and Charles Sturt University)Wagga WaggaAustralia
  5. 5.NSW Department of Primary IndustriesElizabeth Macarthur Agricultural InstituteMenangleAustralia
  6. 6.INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), CNRS, UMR 1355-7254 Institute Sophia AgrobiotechUniversité Côte d’AzurSophia-AntipolisFrance
  7. 7.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  8. 8.Institute of Plant Protection, Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of High Technology for Plant ProtectionGuangzhouChina
  9. 9.Department of EntomologyChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  10. 10.International Centre of Insect Physiology and EcologyNairobiKenya

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