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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Insect chemical ecology: chemically mediated interactions and novel applications in agriculture

Mbaluto, Crispus M.; Ayelo, Pascal M.; Duffy, Alexandra G.; Erdei, Anna L.; Tallon, Anais K.; Xia, Siyang; Caballero-Vidal, Gabriela; Spitaler, Urban; Szelenyi, Magdolna O.; Duarte, Goncalo A.; Walker, William B., III; Becher, Paul G.


Insect chemical ecology (ICE) evolved as a discipline concerned with plant-insect interactions, and also with a strong focus on intraspecific pheromone-mediated communication. Progress in this field has rendered a more complete picture of how insects exploit chemical information in their surroundings in order to survive and navigate their world successfully. Simultaneously, this progress has prompted new research questions about the evolution of insect chemosensation and related ecological adaptations, molecular mechanisms that mediate commonly observed behaviors, and the consequences of chemically mediated interactions in different ecosystems. Themed meetings, workshops, and summer schools are ideal platforms for discussing scientific advancements as well as identifying gaps and challenges within the discipline. From the 11th to the 22nd of June 2018, the 11th annual PhD course in ICE was held at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Alnarp, Sweden. The course was made up of 35 student participants from 22 nationalities (Fig. 1a) as well as 32 lecturers. Lectures and laboratory demonstrations were supported by literature seminars, and four broad research areas were covered: (1) multitrophic interactions and plant defenses, (2) chemical communication focusing on odor sensing, processing, and behavior, (3) disease vectors, and (4) applied aspects of basic ICE research in agriculture. This particular article contains a summary and brief synthesis of these main emergent themes and discussions from the ICE 2018 course. In addition, we also provide suggestions on teaching the next generation of ICE scientists, especially during unprecedented global situations.


Chemical ecology; Trophic interactions; Plant defenses; Insect olfaction; Semiochemicals; Integrated pest management; Remote teaching

Published in

Arthropod-Plant Interactions
2020, Volume: 14, number: 6, pages: 671-684