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Chemical Ecology

  1. Falko Drijfhout

Published Online: 15 SEP 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0003265.pub2

eLS

eLS

How to Cite

Drijfhout, F. 2010. Chemical Ecology. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Keele University, Staffordshire, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2010

Abstract

Chemical ecology is the study of the structure, origin and function of naturally occurring chemicals that mediate intraspecific or interspecific interactions. These chemicals are known as semiochemicals. Depending on the function of a semiochemical, this group of chemicals can be further divided into three classes: pheromones, kairomones and allomones. At the heart of the discipline are modern analytical instrumentation, careful observational biology and good bioassay design. Research during the past 50 years has identified many different semiochemicals. Several of these chemicals are currently in use as pest control agents. Although the majority of the early research focused on (lepidopteran) sex pheromones, in recent years, a shift is seen into semiochemicals from other insects as well as noninsects such as mammals, marine animals or even micro-organisms. The field of chemical ecology has developed into a mature science with diverse practical applications, of which pest control is the most important.

Key Concepts:

  • Chemical ecology studies the structure, origin and function of naturally occurring chemicals that mediate intraspecific or interspecific interactions.

  • Bioassays are crucial in successfully identifying active semiochemicals.

  • Semiochemicals are divided into different categories, depending on their function in an organism.

  • Chemical ecology has a much wider application than only its use in pest control.

  • Chemical ecology is characterised by highly cross-disciplinary research.

Keywords:

  • semiochemicals;
  • behaviour;
  • pheromone;
  • allelochemicals;
  • bioassay;
  • chemical analysis;
  • chemical synthesis