What is Chemical Ecology?

Chemical communication is truly the unspoken language of nature. The ability of organisms to transmit and perceive information through chemicals is a remarkable aspect of our natural world. Chemical ecology examines the role of chemical interactions between living organisms and their environment, as the consequences of those interactions on the ethology and evolution of the organisms involved. It is thus a vast and highly interdisciplinary field.

Chemical signals are ubiquitous and can be found in nearly all biological interactions, from bacterial communication to elephant social groups. The study of chemical ecology thus offers both powerful insight into these biological processes, as well as ecologically-based applications for agriculture, manufacturing, and medical industries. Chemical cues can be used to protect a crop from disease, safeguard food from pests, or prevent the spread of malaria, among many others. As such, it is an incredibly important field of study for both basic and applied sciences.