Eavesdropping on Plant–Insect–Microbe Chemical Communications in Agricultural Ecology

The following is an excerpt from an editorial that originally appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

This Virtual Issue highlights recent work published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (JAFC) on important research into the complex network of volatile chemical communications among plants, insects, and microbes. Articles within the Virtual Issue are divided into the following categories Plant-Produced Semiochemicals, Insect-Produced Semiochemicals and Microbe-Produced Semiochemicals.

For 65 years, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (JAFC) has been publishing high-quality, cutting-edge research on the production and protection of agriculture. In the charter issue of JAFC in 1953, the editors posed the question “will we be able to provide an adequate diet for the world’s population, now about 2.5 billion and growing…[?]” The introductory statement promoted the idea of teamwork between scientific disciplines by encouraging chemists and entomologists to work collaboratively.
Sixty five volumes and five billion more people later, the idea of teamwork to protect agriculture remains important. Modern day challenges for agriculture are numerous and include biotic stressors (e.g., insects, parasitic nematodes, microbes, weeds, and increased resistance to pesticides) and abiotic stressors (e.g., drought, flood, extreme temperatures, increased carbon dioxide levels, and extreme weather). Challenges such as these require the continued combined efforts of experts in a wide range of scientific disciplines, including not only chemistry and entomology, but also biochemistry, chemical ecology, molecular biology, plant physiology, and soil science.
Insect pests inflict serious economic, yield, and food safety problems on agriculture worldwide. One approach to protecting agriculture is to understand and apply knowledge of the chemical communication between insects and plants. Both plants and insects respond to chemical signals (semiochemicals), which has important implications for pest control.
Studies of plant–insect interactions and, more recently, interactions among plants, insects, and microbes demonstrate that semiochemicals often facilitate insect movement, aggregation, and host location by herbivores, predators, and parasitoids, all of which can be used to protect agriculture. In a Virtual Issue on semiochemicals, we highlight important recent research into the complex network of volatile chemical communications among plants, insects, and microbes.

Check out the Virtual Issue on Semiochemicals from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry today.

If you have comments or questions for the author of this post, please e-mail: Axial@acs.org.