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Paul G. Becher

Paul Becher
Associate professor in Chemical Ecology


I am interested in chemically mediated interactions between organisms like host finding and sexual communication. My special interest is to understand the importance of microbial signals on plant-insect interactions.

For me it is fascinating to observe and to understand how trace amounts of chemical compounds modulate insect behaviour.

With this understanding and with the possibility to disrupt insect behaviour chemical ecology provides a great basis to develop sustainable control methods for insect pest control.

Currently I link basic research on the model insect Drosophila melanogaster with applied aspects to control the fruit pest Drosophila suzukii.

I am subject editor for the Journal of Pest Science and review editor for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (subject chemical ecology).


Currently involved in supervision and various courses in Chemical Ecology, Ecology and Chemistry and Plant Protection (SLU). Previously: Co-organiser of the PhD course in insect chemical ecology (Alnarp). Communication in Insects (Helsinki University), Fermentors and yeast evolution (Lund University), seminars (University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg), Sensory Physiology (University of Neuchâtel), Aquatic Microbiology (University and ETH Zürich) Biochemical Limnology, and the lecture course in ecology (University of Zürich).


Working with insects I study the behavioural activity and ecological relevance of chemical signals emitted by microbes, plants and insects.

The current focus of my research is on Drosophila suzukii an invasive, destructive pest insect on fruit.

I am part of the SLU Centre for Biological Control (CBC) operational group.

My research is supported by Formas, the SLU Platform for Plant Protection, the Linnaeus project ICE-3 (Formas, SLU), the Crafoord Foundation, Plantlink, the Swedish farmers’ foundation for agricultural research (SLF) and CBC.


2006 Dr sc. nat., University of Zürich, Switzerland.

2001 Diploma in Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany.

I initially investigated food quality effects (lipds) and chemical defense mechanisms (neurotoxic alkaloids) of aquatic microbes on invertebrates. 

Since 2006 I work on insect sensory physiology and behaviour and aim to combine basic research with the development of sustainable control methods for horticultural and agricultural pest insects.

My main expertise is on chemical ecology, plant protection, entomology, microbiology, behavioural assays, biocontrol.

Selected publications

(Complete list further down)

Becher PG, Lebreton S, Wallin EA, Hedenström E, Borrero-Echeverry F, Bengtsson M, Jörger V, Witzgall P 2018 The scent of the fly. Journal of Chemical Ecology 8, 2962–2974

Becher PG, Hagman A, Verschut V, Chakraborty A, Rozpędowska E, Lebreton S, Bengtsson M, Flick G, Witzgall P, Piškur J 2018 Chemical signaling and insect attraction is a conserved trait in yeasts. Ecology and Evolution8, 2962–2974

Becher PG, Jensen RE, Natsopoulou ME, Verschut V, De Fine Licht, HH 2018 Infection of Drosophila suzukiiwith the obligate insect-pathogenic fungus Entomophthora muscae. Journal of Pest Science91, 781–787

Lebreton S, Borrero-Echeverry F, Gonzalez F, Solum M, Wallin E, Hedenström E, Hansson BS, Gustavsson A-L, Bengtsson M, Birgersson G, Walker WB, Dweck H, Becher PG, Witzgall P 2017 A Drosophila female pheromone elicits species-specific long-range attraction via an olfactory channel with dual specificity for sex and food. BMC Biology15, 88

Mori BA, Whitener AB, Leinweber Y, Revadi S, Beers EH, Witzgall P, Becher PG 2016 Enhanced yeast feeding following mating facilitates control of the invasive fruit pest Drosophila suzukii. Journal of Applied Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12688

Hamby KA, Becher PG (2016) Current knowledge of interactions between Drosophila suzukii and microbes, and their potential utility for pest management. Journal of Pest Science 89, 621–630

Kromann SH, Saveer AM, Binyameen M, Bengtsson M, Birgersson G, Hansson BS, Schlyter F, Witzgall P, Ignell R, Becher PG 2015. Concurrent modulation of neuronal and behavioural olfactory responses to sex and host plant cues in a male moth. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282, 20141884

Stensmyr MC, Dweck HKM, Farhan A, Ibba I, Strutz A, Mukunda L, Linz J, Grabe V, Steck K, Lavista-Llanos S, Wicher D, Sachse S, Knaden M, Becher PG, Seki Y, Hansson BS. 2012. A conserved dedicated olfactory circuit for detecting harmful microbes in Drosophila. Cell, 151, 1345–1357.

Becher PG, Flick G, Rozpędowska E, Schmidt A, Hagman A, Lebreton S, Larsson MC, Hansson BS, Piškur J, Witzgall P, Bengtsson M. 2012. Yeast, not fruit volatiles mediate Drosophila melanogaster attraction, oviposition and development. Functional Ecology, 26, 822–828

Researcher at the Institutionen för växtskyddsbiologi
Telephone: 040-415305
Postal address:
Växtskyddsbiologi, Box 102
23053 Alnarp
Visiting address: Sundsvägen 16, Alnarp

Publications list: