An Introduction to Semiochemicals
Chemical Senses in Nature
Chemical ecology is the study of organisms interacting through chemical means. Information about the environment can be perceived through olfaction in most insects. These message bearing volatile signals are known as semiochemicals. There are various distinctions within semiochemicals like pheromones, kairomones, and allomones. Semiochemicals can be used to manipulate behaviour both of pests and beneficial insects.
Pheromones are the basis for volatile communication within the same species. Insects recognize the odour bouquet of their potential hosts via chemicals known as kairomones and non-hosts by allomones. Predatory insects recognize their prey kairomones and sometimes these are the pheromones themselves for the prey. So it is easily possible there are multiple designations of a single semiochemical, depending upon the perspective.
Herbivores damage their host plants and the volatile emission from the plant changes from being healthy to being stressed or damaged. These changes in the kairomone signal are known as herbivore induced plant volatiles (HIPV). Nature is often conservative and many of the same volatile chemical signals are active in widely differing species.
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