Behavioral and chemical ecology approaches in the study of plant-insect and multitrophic interactions
Dr. Tolulope Morawo received his Ph.D. in entomology from Auburn University in 2017 under Dr. Henry Fadamiro and started...
Plants, herbivorous insects and natural enemies interact in complex chemical environments. Insects may use visual, olfactory and mechanosensory cues or a combination of cues for communication. However, a vast majority of interactions are mediated by semiochemicals – signal chemicals produced by one organism that modifies the behavior of another organism. Insect chemical ecologists seek answers to the following questions:
(i) How do insects select and locate specific plant species for food?
(ii) How do plants respond to attack from insects and other phytophagous arthropods?
(iii) How do natural enemies and blood-sucking insects find their hosts?
(iv) What is the identity of semiochemicals mediating species interactions?
(v) What are the physiological and molecular mechanisms of defense response in plants and chemosensory reception in insects?
This collection will highlight various techniques used in behavioral and chemical ecology approaches to understand the trophic interactions in urban, agricultural and natural landscapes. These approaches include but are not limited to behavioral techniques such as olfactometer and flight tunnel bioassays; electrophysiological techniques such as single-sensillum and electroantennogram recordings; analytical techniques, such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; and molecular approaches measuring expression of defense-related genes in plants and identification of chemosensory genes in insects. Each technique has its strengths and limitations but a combination of two or more techniques facilitates a more complete investigation.