Peter Witzgall

Peter Witzgall
Professor, Chemical Ecology


1989 PhD in Zoology, University of Munich, for research at MPI Seewiesen, INRA Brouessy and FAW Wädenswil 
2001 Professor in Plant Protection Sciences and Chemical Ecology, SLU
2009 Faculty Chair in Chemical Ecology, SLU Alnarp


Studying olfactory communication in insects instructs the discovery of chemical signals guiding the search for food and mates.

Such semiochemicals are efficient tools for environmentally safe detection and management of insects feeding on food crops. In 2006, we registered a pheromone-based control method for codling moth and distributed pheromone dispensers to apple growers during ten years, via Phero.Net AB.

More recent work on codling moth provided the insight that fruit and berries contain a rich microbiome, including yeasts, that interfaces fruit and fruit-feeding animals, with respect to communication and nutritional services. The aroma of ripe fruits and berries is largely derived from associated yeasts.

This know-how instructs new plant protection techniques, via manipulation of insect behaviour, and affords ways of  enhancing the sensorial quality of horticultural products. 

The current ambition is to understand chemical convergence in arthropods and mammals. Particularly important sign chemicals are used by all animals to decode information mediated by volatile codes in ambient air. These odorants interconnect all living things, but arthropods and mammals use different receptors to decode them. Attempts are made to enhance communication with end-users and a public audience. 


Phero.Net AB


PhD Students - Main supervisor

Francisco Gonzalez (2013-2017): "Smells of sociality"
Felipe Borrero (2012-2016): “Social and environmental olfactory signals mediate insect behavioral ecology and evolution”
Marco Tasin, SLU Alnarp (2002-2005): "Sex, wine and chemical communication in grapevine moth Lobesia botrana"Miryan Coracini, SLU Alnarp (1998-2002): "Semiochemicals claim territory - Sex pheromones and plant volatiles for control of codling moth and Brazilian apple leafroller"
Anna-Carin Bäckman, SLU Alnarp (1994-1999): "Olfactory communication in the codling moth, Cydia pomonella L."

Publikationer i urval

Ljunggren J et al. 2019. Yeast volatomes differentially effect larval feeding in an insect herbivore. Appl Environm Microbiol 85: e01761-19

Borrero-Echeverry F et al. 2018. Plant odour and sex pheromone are integral elements of specific mate recognition in an insect herbivore. Evolution 72:2225-2233

Becher PG et al. 2018. The scent of the fly. J chem Ecol 44:431-435

Lebreton S et al. 2017. A Drosophila female pheromone elicits species-specific long-range attraction via an olfactory channel with dual specificity for sex and food. BMC Biology 15:88

Mori BA et al. 2017. Enhanced yeast feeding following mating facilitates control of the invasive fruit pest Drosophila suzukii. J appl Ecol 54:170–177

Walker III WB et al. 2016. The chemosensory receptors of codling moth Cydia pomonella - expression in larvae and adults. Sci Rep 6:23518

Gonzalez F et al. 2016. Protocol for heterologous expression of insect odourant receptors in Drosophila. Front Ecol Evol 4:24

Hatano E et al. 2015. A herbivore-induced plant volatile interferes with host plant and mate location in moths through suppression of olfactory signalling pathways. BMC Biology 13:75

Lebreton S et al. 2015. Feeding regulates sex pheromone attraction and courtship in Drosophila females. Sci Rep 5:13132

Lebreton S et al. 2014. Love makes smell blind: mating suppresses pheromone attraction in Drosophila females via OR65a olfactory neurons. Sci Rep 4:7119

Knight AL, Witzgall P. 2013. Combining mutualistic yeast and pathogenic virus - a novel method for codling moth control. J chem Ecol 39:1019-1026

Trona F et al. 2013. Neural coding merges sex and habitat chemosensory signals in an insect herbivore. Proc R Soc B 280:20130267

Witzgall P et al. 2012. "This is not an apple" - yeast mutualism in codling moth. J chem Ecol 38:949–957

Becher PG et al. 2012. Yeast, not fruit volatiles mediate attraction and development of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Funct Ecol 26:822-828

Saveer AM et al. 2012. Floral to green: mating switches moth olfactory coding and preference. Proc R Soc B 279:2314-2322

Witzgall P et al. 2010. Sex pheromones and their impact on pest management. J chem Ecol 36:80-100

Witzgall P et al. 2008. Codling moth management and chemical ecology. Annu Rev Entomol 53:503–522

Professor vid Institutionen för växtskyddsbiologi
Telefon: +4640-415307
Växtskyddsbiologi, Box 102
23053 Alnarp
Besöksadress: Sundsvägen 16, Alnarp