Putting smells into context: Using in vivo technologies to understand plant-insect odour signalling. (2009–2011)
Odour recognition is central to the evolutionary success of herbivorous insects. Odours emitted by plants are complex chemical mixtures. To date, the role of individual chemical components, in forming an odour signal to an insect, has been difficult to disentangle. We remove this constraint by using tobacco plants, genetically modified to alter specific components of odour emissions. We use this model system to investigate key questions in olfactory research: How do genetic changes affect phenotypic odour expression, and which components of an odour are important in plant recognition? We explore the potential for controlling insect pests by manipulating plant-insect signalling.