Chemical ecology is the study of chemical interactions between individual organisms, focusing on signalling chemicals, such as pheromones, and defensive chemicals, especially the plant secondary metabolites which deter herbivory. Many of these antifeedant plant chemicals have found use as medicinal drugs, for example atropine, morphine and artemisinin. Chemical messengers acting between cells are an important part of both disciplines: hormones and neurotransmitters in pharmacology, and pheromones and other semiochemicals in ecology. Thus chemical ecology can be regarded as the extension of pharmacology from the individual to society, including interactions between species.
This research requires collaborators from several disciplines, including pharmacology, analytical chemistry and animal and plant science. We have investigated how herbivores whose diets include plants which contain toxic chemicals can avoid being poisoned. Currently we are searching for pheromones in brushtail possums. The chemical structure of some of the compounds found are shown here.
|Stuart McLean||Emeritus Professor||Stuart.McLean@utas.edu.au||Publications|
|Noel Davies||Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow - Organic Mass Spectrometry, Central Science Laboratory||Noel.Davies@utas.edu.au||Publications|
|Natasha Wiggins||Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Australian-American Fulbright Scholar) at Bosie State University (Idaho) and Honorary Research Associate UTAS (School of Plant Science)||Natasha.Wiggins@utas.edu.au|
|Bernie McLeod||Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Otago, New Zealand||Bernie.McLeod@live.com|
Authorised by the Associate Head, Pharmacy
16 February, 2015