We study how chemical signals (olfaction and taste) are used by insects to find food, a partner or an egg laying site. We try to answer questions about how the signals work (morphology, physiology, behaviour and ecology), how they have evolved (evolution and genetics), and how they can be used for practical purposes, for example to suppress pest insects or census rare species.
The Pheromone Group and the Neuroethology Group (NG). From left to right: Marcus Stensmyr (NG), Martin Andersson, Nicoletta Faraone, Jothi Kumar Yuvaraj, Suzan Mansourian (NG), Bao-Jian Ding, Christer Löfstedt, Glenn Svensson, Dan-Dan Zhang, Olle Anderbrant, Johan Jakobsson, Yihan Xia, Kristina Brauburger (Vision Gr.), Anders Enjin (NG), Monica Dam (Bachelor Student), Erling Jirle, Hong-Lei Wang, Hannah Åbacka (Bachelor Student) and Jacob Corcoran. Photo: Erling Jirle, 11 Nov 2015. Click here for a much bigger photo. Missing on the photo: Erika Tóth and Xiaoqing Hou
Chemical signals used for communication between individuals of the same species are pheromones. These can be divided into sex pheromones, aggregation pheromones, egg laying deterring pheromones etc., depending on their function and on what behaviour they release in the receiving individual. Plants release odours, which are used not only by plant feeding species (e.g., many pests in agriculture and forestry) to find food or egg-laying site, but also by pollinating species, which are important to many flowering plants – an extremely important so called ecosystem service.
Chemical signals can be used to monitor different insects or to suppress pest species. Pheromones are usually species specific, i.e. only individuals belonging to one species understand them. This enables "tailor-designed" monitoring and suppression, which minimize effects on other, non-target, organisms. The most common suppression method are mating disruption (males are disturbed by synthetic female odour - sex pheromone - and no mating take place) and mass trapping with large number of traps.
Our research takes place in the laboratory and in the field and includes for instance
- Chemical analysis (GC and GC-MS)
- Electrophysiology (EAD, GC-EAD and GC-single cell)
- Molecular biology (mutagenesis, gene hunting by PCR based technique and 454 sequencing, heterologous expression in yeast and plant for functional assay)
- Behavioural assays (wind tunnel, walking bioassays, Y-tube test)
- Field experiments
The research is supported mainly by Swedish research councils and various foundations (see the respective project)