Dr Norhayati Ngah

Doctoral ResearcherYati and Elephant

My interest in life sciences was inspired by the well known naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, whose programmes I always watched while growing up in Malaysia, and coming from a rural area has made me passionate about the natural world. My desire to learn more about the interaction of plants and insects and the effect on the agriculture industry encouraged me to undertake a Bachelor Degree of Bioindustry (Pest Management) and Master of Science Entomology, from the Universiti Putra, Malaysia. Thereafter, I worked as a lecturer at the School of Plant Science, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin Terengganu. I taught plant protection and trained as a young researcher in the Pest Management Research Group. After four years at UniSZA, I decided to accept the opportunity offered by my employer to undertake a Malaysian Government Scholarship for young researchers/lecturers to become a doctoral research at the University of Reading.

My main interests centre around pest management, which cover biological and chemical control. My research group was awarded a grant by the Terengganu Government to study the potential of Discorea hispida Dennst as a biopesticide to control insect pests. The purpose of this research is to help the local people at Terengganu to improve their family financial by planting and producing the tuber of discourse hispida for agro-chemical industry needs and for their own usage in agricultural activities. I have also been awarded a UniSZA grant to study the potential of the local Derris sp. in controlling the Plutella xylostella infestation on cruciferous plant.

Research Project - Influence of ecological variation on aphid-parasitoid interactions

Aphids are among the most important pests of crops on a global scale. Annually billions of US$ are spent in an attempt to control them. Given a need to reduce expenditure and to also reduce chemical inputs into the environment, biological control using parasitic wasps is an increasingly used approach to aphid control. Nevertheless, as with all biological systems, ecological and environmental variation can alter the efficacy of biocontrol. In this project we will explore how factors that affect the hosts (variation in plant quality, competition, fungal pathogens) interacts with those that affect the natural enemies (host quality, learning) to affect the outcome of biocontrol. We will use pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum) and their parasitoids (primarily Aphidius eadyii) and predator (Harmonia axyridis) in both laboratory and field experiments to explore these ecologically and economically important questions. The results of such experiments can inform decisions concerning the likely outcome of host-parasitoid interactions, and hence the likely success of biological control programmes. Developing a fundamental understanding of how biotic variation influences biocontrol is a key step towards minimising the losses suffered as a result of attack by these devastating pests.

 

Publications

Ngah, N., Thomas, R. L., Shaw, M. W. and Fellowes, M. D. E. (2018) Asymptomatic host plant infection by the widespread pathogen Botrytis cinerea alters the life histories, behaviors, and interactions of an aphid and its natural enemies. Insects, 9 (3). 80. ISSN 2075-4450 doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/insects9030080

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Interested in garden birds? Check out the details of our Urban Bird Conservation project to find out how you can take part.

 

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