Chemical Ecology

Last changed: 21 January 2019

Chemically mediated interactions between plants and insects are central in many habitats, both natural ones and those influenced by human activities.

Our group mainly study of ecological interactions between plants and herbivorous insects, where chemical signals are essential. These interactions are also studied in a multitrophic context, where the influence of pathogens, symbionts and natural enemies associated with the plants and insects are investigated. We combine and integrate ecological, evolutionary and applied questions with in-depth expertise in chemical analysis to identify behaviourally and physiologically active olfactory signals and to gain a comprehensive understanding of how they influence our study systems.

The research includes different aspects of ecology that affect both host plant and mate choice in insects, and for example study how volatiles from host and non-host plants affect insects’ choice of host plant. Another focus is modulation, where insects’ behavioural plasticity and physiological reactions are studied on various scales ranging from the gene to the landscape and both in an intra- and transgenerational context. Important research is done on preserving insect biodiversity and how habitats with high plant biodiversity, and thus a greater odour diversity, contributes to reducing pest attacks. In addition, we make initial studies of various kinds of ‘omics’ to investigate mechanisms behind ecological interactions and evolutionary changes.

Our aim is to produce novel and interesting scientific advancements, as well as applicable knowledge that responds to societal needs and sustainable development. Knowledge of interactions between plants, insects and associated organisms, controlled by chemical signals, constitutes a platform for novel, environmentally safe applications to meet society’s growing demand for sustainable production and food safety.

We welcome students at any level to perform project work in our group!

Projects                                                                                                                                        

  • To be added soon
New PhD course given by the division of Chemical Ecology:

Analytical Methods in Chemical Ecology   (6ECTS)

 when:  June 3 – 14, 2019

where:  Chemical Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Alnarp

This 6 ECTS course is an introduction to modern analytical methods used in Chemical Ecological and Ecotoxicological research, such as:

  • methods for sampling volatile organic compounds
  • understanding chromatography; both gas chromatography and liquid chromatography
  • how to choose an analytical column, and why …
  • different methods for identification of organic compounds
  • methods for quantification, and the reliability of quantitative analysis

The course will also include a practical part: volatile collection, sample preparation, GC-MS analysis, and evaluation, using the analytical instrumentation at Chemical Ecology, Plant Protection Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Alnarp

for more information – contact the course leader Göran Birgersson: goeran.birgersson@slu.se


Prof. Peter Anderson – peter.anderson@slu.se
Page editor: goeran.birgersson@slu.se