Olfactory information in ecology and disease diagnosis

Thu, Oct 25, 2018, 12:30 pm

Work in our group is broadly focused on the role of biological communication in ecology and more specifically on the role of chemical signaling in mediating interactions among plants, insects, and other organisms. In this talk, I will discuss recent work on the communicative functions of volatile cues and signals. Much of our work in this area has explored the ways in which changes in plant odors induced by herbivory or pathogen infection convey ecologically relevant information to other organisms, including insect herbivores and their natural enemies. We are also exploring how plants themselves perceive and respond to environmental odors, including the pheromones of insect herbivores. Another focus of our recent work addresses the role of odor cues disease transmission by insect vectors in both plant and animal pathosystems. In addition to documenting the implications of pathogen-induced changes in host odors for vector behavior, we are interested in whether such changes create biomarkers of infection that could be exploited for disease diagnosis. Some of our ongoing work in this area aims to identify a volatile signature of malaria infection in humans, and our recent results suggest that volatiles have significant potential to identify aysymptomatic malaria infections that often go undetected by existing screening methods.

Guyot 10
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Open to public

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