The expertise of the Entomology and Invasive Plants unit covers all insect and mite pests, beneficial insects and mites (which help protect crops), plants that compete with crops, and invasive plants. It plays a major role in the discovery and assessment of pest risks related to new species introduced in France and Europe. The unit is located on a campus where it benefits from exchanges with other scientific agencies (INRAE, CIRAD, IRD, Montpellier SupAgro-Institut Agro) and has access to exceptional documentary resources and insect collections. Internationally, it is actively involved in the “entomology” and “invasive plants” panels of the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO).
In 2019, the unit was entrusted with the mandate of European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for insects and mites, in consortium with the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES). The unit focuses more particularly on priority species for the European Union, for example species of the genus Agrilus, the Bactrocera zonata species, and the B. dorsalis species complex. In conjunction with EPPO, the EURL also works to enrich the Q-Bank database of reference sequences (barcodes), which is a tool that supports the reliable molecular identification of the arthropods listed in the European Plant Health Regulation.
Surveillance support activities
The unit actively contributes to the surveillance of new emerging pests and carries out analyses of botanical data, in order to detect unintended effects of agricultural practices on plants (in conjunction with phytopharmacovigilance). It makes its data available to the epidemiological surveillance platform for plant health (ESV) as needed and provides it with scientific support in analytical fields.
The unit supervises theses in the areas of entomology and botany. It also carries out research work, dealing for example with the validation of high-throughput molecular diagnostic tools in entomology and the investigation of functional traits explaining the success or failure of invasive plants (common ragweed, Japanese hop, etc.) and crop weeds (unwanted plants).