The EthoGenomics project developed a method for the screening of crop lines for host plant resistance against aphids and thrips. This focussed on the determination and quantification of behaviors that are an indication of host plant resistence.


The partners in this consortium were:

  • Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • Tupola, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • Royal van Zanten B.V., Rijssenhout, The Netherlands
  • Noldus Information Technology, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Breeding for resistance in ornamental flowers

Ornamental flowers, amongst the main export products of The Netherlands, suffer from pest insects such as thrips and aphids. Not only do these tiny insects damage the flowers and the leaves, they also infest the plants with devastating plant viruses. 

There is a lot of natural variation in the mechanisms plants have to defend themselves against insects. This offers a rich source of possibilities to specifically breed plant varieties that are better protected against pests, which in turn decreases the need for pesticides on ornamental crops and makes the production of ornamental flowers more sustainable.

To select crop varieties with resistance to insects, a large number of crop lines needs to be screened. This type of screening for host plant resistance typically consists of scoring the damage to the plants. However, many different factors influence the damage on the leaves, complicating the breeding process. It is important to understand the mechanisms of resistance, starting with the behavior of the pest insects on the leaves, but with adult aphids and thrips only measuring 1 to 2 mm, studying their behavior is very labor intensive.  Automatic analysis of insect behaviors would therefor tremendously increase the efficiency of crop line screening. 

The EthoGenomics project

In the EthoGenomics project, a new method to screen crop lines for host plant resistance against aphids and thrips was developed. With tracking software EthoVision XT, the behavior of the insects can be determined and analyzed in three steps:

  1. The behaviors that are an indicator for host plant resistance are determined.
  2. These behaviors are quantified with EthoVision XT.
  3. Hardware is developed to automate screening for this behavior on a large number of crop lines.


  •  K.J. Kloth, C.J.M ten Broeke, M.P.M. Thoen, M. Hanhart-van den Brink, G.L. Wiegers, O.E. Krips, L.P.J.J. Noldus, M. Dicke, M.A. Jongsma (2015). High-throughput phenotyping of plant resistance to aphids by automated video tracking. Plant Methods, 11:4, DOI 10.1186/s13007-015-0044-z. Freely accessible via
  • Manus P. M. Thoen, Karen J. Kloth, Gerrie L. Wiegers, Olga E. Krips, Lucas P. J. J. Noldus, Marcel Dicke and Maarten A. Jongsma (2016). Automated video tracking of thrips behavior to assess host-plant resistance in multiple parallel two-choice setups. Plant Methods 12:1. DOI 10.1186/s13007-016-0102-1. Freely accessible via

For more information, please visit the EthoGenomics website