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Institut Sophia Agrobiotech

UMR INRA - Univ. Nice Sophia Antipolis - Cnrs

Models and Methods for Plant Protection

The team aims at making plant protection more respectful of the environment. Its objectives range from the development of innovative ecological pest management strategies to agroecosystem (re)design. For that purpose, the team develops an interdisciplinary research program based on the concerted use of theoretical models and experiments to address specific plant protection issues from the individual to the agroecosystem level. The team also has a key expertise in protected environment agriculture, especially in the design and management of greenhouse cropping systems.


Under public and regulation pressure, plant protection must shift to more environmentally friendly and sustainable methods. This shift requires the gradual abandoning of phytopharmaceutical chemicals, the design of more resilient agroecosystems taking advantage of natural feedbacks, and the development of ecological pest management programs. Achieving this ambition requires a better understanding of the ecological and evolutionary processes at work within agroecosystems, encompassing the biotic-abiotic interface.

In this context, the team develops theoretical models and experiments, from individuals to populations, to unravel agroecosystems functioning and improve existing or infer new plant protection methods. Key research questions include: the behavior and population dynamics of arthropod pest-natural enemy systems, the epidemiology of plant pathogens and the management of plant resistance, as well as the optimization of biocontrol strategies. The team is also involved in the development of decision support systems to facilitate real-life implementation of ecological pest management. 

M2P2 has close collaborations with other ISA teams on shared research topics: biological control and population introductions with BPI and RDLB, nematode population dynamics with IPN. It also initiated UMT Fiorimed, which associates research, technical and training institutes to disseminate innovation in horticultural plant protection. M2P2 is also tightly linked to Inria Sophia Antipolis through the joint team Biocore for the modelling aspect of its research.


Figure caption. A: Population Dynamics. B: Soil-less culture of tomato plants in a greenhouse. C: Spatial spread of a pathogen population in an aggregated landscape. D: Bistability in a plant-herbivore model with plant compensation. E: S@M, a decision support system to facilitate real-life implementation of ecological pest management programs. F: CFD simulation of the vertical temperature field inside a greenhouse. G:Nesoseuiulus californicus on textile fiber (colours inverted). H: Branching in the evolution of parasite secondary infection transmission rate. I: Plant - parasite compartmental model. J: The double helix, a laboratory apparatus to study insect movements. K: Parasitoid wasp Trichogramma cacoeciae.


Understanding and exploiting multitrophic interactions 

  • Behavioral ecology of parasitoids - modelling, experiments.
  • Population dynamics and epidemiology: optimization of biocontrol deployment strategies, development of biocontrol plants, etc. - modelling, experiments. 
  • Effect of abiotic conditions on multitrophic interactions, climatic control - modelling, experiments.

Predicting and controling the adaptation of populations

  • Plant resistance and virulence evolution in plant pathogens and parasites - modelling.
  • Evolution of parasitoids (movement and response to organic volatiles) - modelling, experiments.
  • Adaptation of plant pests and diseases to agricultural practices - experiments.

Designing and developing innovative agroecosystems

  • Management of plant resistance over space and time at the agrosystem and farm scale - modelling.
  • Development of decision support systems for real life implementation of ecological pest management. 
  • Design of high quality standards greenhouse cropping systems - modelling
  • New cultures for innovative greenhouse cropping systems - modelling, experiments.



  • Dynamical systems (ordinary differential equations, recurrent equations, hybrid systems, stochastic models, etc.).
  • Computer simulations (large scale dynamical systems, individual based models, computational fluid dynamics etc.).
  • Control and optimization theory (optimal control theory, calculs of variations, etc.).
  • Statistics (hypothesis testing, statistical modelling, sensitivity analysis, etc.).


  • Lab scale studies of insect behavior.
  • Lab scale experimental evolution of insects.
  • Population dynamics of insects in microcosms, meso-cosms, and at the agroecosystem scale.
  • Systemic approaches at the crop scale, prototyping.


  • Computer vision, numeric images treatment.
  • Precision agriculture, ICT and decision support systems.
  • Co-innovation with private partners and the agricultural profession.


Plants: rose trees, tomatoe plants + other crops through external collaborations (e.g. corn, oilseed rape, pepper plants, banana trees,oak trees). 

Plant pests and diseases: rose powdery mildew, gray mold disease, root-knot nematodes, thysanoptera sp., phytophagous mites + other pathosystems through external collaborations (e.g. phoma stem canker of oilseed rape, plant viruses, Black Sigatoka disease of banana, oak powdery mildew, corn borers).

Natural enemies: trichogramma sp., predatory mites.