About us

We are committed to creating a new sustainable alternative crop protection method

Our consortium brings together a multidisciplinary team with complementary skills and expertise.

Our experts in physical chemistry, polymer sciences and soft matter from Groningen University and Wageningen University design and create adhesive particles out natural materials and investigate their adhesive properties.
Our experts in ecology, plant sciences and entomology from Leiden University and Aeres University of Applied Sciences investigate the effects of the adhesive substances as a plant-defense method against small arthropod pests and examine effects on crops, beneficials and non-target organisms.
Our contributing companies and supporting foundations offer expert advice, assist in product development and bring together a unique network of shareholders including breeders, growers and environmentalists.
Altogether, our project covers the chain from fundamental and applied research to knowledge transfer and product development.
Together, we are inspired by nature to find solutions for the problems our society is facing today.
If you want to know more or cooperate with us, send us an email!
Western flower thrips struggeling to escape from a glandular trichome of a cape sundew plant (photo by Thijs Bierman).
Our Consortium
Martijn is a renowned ecologist and the head of the department of the Above-Belowground-Interactions research group. The primary interest of his group is to study how microbe compositions in the soil can affect future generations of plants, insects that live on them, and even the microbes within these insects. Within this project he applies his multi-disciplinary expertise of soil-plant-insect interactions and management skills as the new chairman of the Natural Plant Defense project.
Marleen investigates next-generation polymeric functional materials and adhesives. She develops switchable adhesive systems by combining stimuli responsive materials with surface patterning techniques and new technologies for bonding in wet conditions. She has been a full professor since 2019. Within the project, she acts as the head of development of Groningen's natural polymer based adhesive spray, which is based on the droplets of glandular trichomes
Thomas began in 2017 as an Assistant Professor at WUR. He received his PhD in 2015 from Harvard University in Applied Physics, then moved to Universiteit van Amsterdam as a postdoctal research in Soft Matter Physics. Thomas has experience in polymer physics and adhesion with an emphasis on novel synthesis. Within this project, he acts as the leading researcher in product development of Wageningen's oil-based adhesive particle spray.
Klaas is an alumni assistant professor and multi-disciplinary ecologist at Leiden University. Next to education, he was involved in research surrounding secondary plant metabolites, their interactions with herbivores and plant pathogens, and the evolutionary forces that drive these interactions in native and invasive plants. He also applied his expertise in genomics and bioinformatics for the conservation of lions. Within this project he has acted as a former chairman guiding the development of the project and prototype testing experiments.
Young is an associate professor, famous NMR expert, and head of the Natural Products Lab. His research focusses on identification of plant metabolites and database development, plant-microbial chemical interactions related to pathogen defense, and research on natural deep eutectic solvents (NADES) in plant cells, organs or extracellular fluids. He furthermore applies his expertise in development of natural drugs, antibiotics and antifungal reagents. Whithin the project he acts as an expert natural chemist overseeing the biochemical and metabolomical aspects of the project.
Hocelayne is a postdoctoral researcher and multi-disciplinary expert in chemical ecology, Gas-chromatography Mass- spectrometry (GC-MS), High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS), and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR). In the project, she acts as principal investigator of the metabolomic responses of plants to the natural adhesives and insect pests. Both in terms of secondary metabolite shifts within the plant and regarding changes in the volatile emissions and how these affect  natural enemies of thrips and other pests.
Bram has been working as a lecturer in Applied Biology and Plant Breedinging Applied Biology at Aeres University of Applied Sciences Almere since 2017. He received his PhD from University of Amsterdam (2019) in plant-herbivore interactions (spider mites). Bram has a background in plant-herbivore interactions and teaching. Bram is active in research and encourages students to participate and gain experience as applied plant researchers and propagation advisors. Within this project he is involved in the research on testing product effects on natural enemies and pollinators
Mirka Joined Aeres in 2021 as a lecturer on applied research regarding plant-defense, sustainable crop protection and ecosystems. She promoted at the University of Leiden on the topic of plant-insect interactions and plant-defense mechanisms in natural- and crop systems. Recently she has promoted to lector in sustainable defense of plants. Next to educating students and overseeing product testing on beneficial insects, she is also one of the key facilitators of outreach our research to society.
Eelco joined the project in 2023 as a project manager. He is responsible for the logistics behind the project, ranging from organization of meetings, reporting to our funders and participants, and laying the groundwork for outreach to society.
Peter is an alumni professor in ecology, interested in the key factors in the evolution of plant traits, plant-insect interactions and the origin and maintenance of biological variation. Until his recent retirement he was the head of the department of Plant ecology of Leiden University and first chair of the Natural Plant-Defense project. The father of this project so to say.
PhD Candidates
Thijs began his PhD in April 2021. He is an Msc plant scientist with a specialism in entomology and plant pathology. He is aspiring to become a biological control and IPM researcher. His PhD track focuses on investigating the efficacy of the new plant-protection methods developed by his colleagues. In addition to studying how insects and plants react to the natural adhesives, he invstigates the applied use of repellent and attractive plant volatiles.
Abinaya began her PhD in March 2021. She is a chemical engineer with a wide range of experiences in material and polymer sciences. In her PhD she utilizes her biotechnological expertise to fabricate sustainable adhesives from nature-sourced compounds. Next to creating novel materials she investigates the effects of abiotic factors and molecular properties and physical forces related to adhesion in general. 
Ralph began his PhD in May 2020. His expertise lies within the fields of food technology, physical chemistry and soft matter. Within the Natural Plant-Defense project he uses natural waste products from plants to create adhesive particles for use in plant protection. Additionally he investigates the adhesive properties of his materials using modelling approaches and works on upscaling and optimizing the production methods for his product.