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List of Symposia

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Sonja Bisch-Knaden (MPI for Chemical Ecology, Germany)
Alexander Haverkamp (WUR, Netherlands)

Understanding the function of chemoreceptor genes is key to unlocking an insect’s sensory world, as well as for comprehending its ecology and evolution. The fitness of insects is significantly influenced by their choice of hosts and oviposition sites. Chemoreceptors that are tuned to detect specific host cues have a unique influence on the co-evolution of insects and their environment, because of their direct impact on the insect’s fitness.
Molecular techniques like Crispr/Cas9 have opened new possibilities for studying insect chemoreceptors. This symposium aims to summarize current knowledge on these receptors in an ecological and evolutionary context. The main focus will be on receptor genes involved in host and oviposition site selection, but contributions on insect olfaction in general, e.g., pheromone communication, are also welcome.

Ilona Croy (Friedrich Schiller University, Germany)

Human interaction is characterized by how we perceive each other, and our perception is decisively determined by the consciously and unconsciously emitted signals. Body odor is one signal that provides information about the other person – from eating habits, age, menstrual cycle, or inflammation status to current emotionality.
In this symposium, we will shed light on human olfactory perception and sender-receiver communication. We will investigate how we process and perceive odors, how stress is are reflected in body odors, and how this changes the chemical composition of the odor-active volatiles.

Emmanuel Defossez (University of Neuchatel, Switzerland)
Sergio Rasmann (University of Neuchatel, Switzerland)

With this symposium, we aim to invite contributions that bring together researchers from diverse fields to explore and discuss recent advancements in ecometabolomics, covering the journey from molecule discovery to understanding ecosystem functioning. Specifically, session will cover analytical techniques for metabolite profiling, novel approaches for identification, and case studies illustrating successful molecule discovery in ecological contexts. The dynamics of metabolites in ecosystems, their responses to environmental factors, and their role in ecological functionality will be discussed. Translational applications in conservation, agriculture, and environmental monitoring, as well as future perspectives and collaborative opportunities, will be invited. The symposium aims to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, address challenges, and chart the course for future research in ecometabolomics.

Quentin Guignard (Natural resources Canada, Canada)

Forests are among the oldest and largest ecosystems on earth and provide a large number of niches for insects to live in. Insects have developed diverse tools to complete their life cycle and increase their fitness, some of which are unique to forest ecosystems. Among these tools are adaptations to facilitate interactions among organisms that are tuned to forest environments. Biological interactions among trees, insects and their associated microbiome (e.g., fungus, nematodes, bacteria) are often mediated by semiochemicals. Given the ecological, economic and cultural importance of forests, understanding these interactions is important. In recent years, a few forest insect outbreaks have received considerable public attention (e.g., Ips typographus), highlighting the need to find solutions to manage pest insects in forests. The aim of this symposium is to bring together scientists from across the world to discuss their latest research in this field, share their knowledge and provide networking opportunities.

Sandra Steiger (University of Bayreuth, Germany)

Social life is a very diverse phenomenon and comes in many different forms and with many different facets. Yet, past research on chemical communication has focused on one social lifestyle, namely eusociality. In eusocial animals, communication between nestmates has fascinated scientists for centuries and a plethora of studies are available. In contrast, non-eusocial animals — those living in temporary or permanent groups and displaying coordinated collective behavior or engaging in parental care — have not received comparable attention. This oversight leaves a significant gap in our understanding of chemical communication and other chemically mediated interactions across diverse social lifestyles.
The aim of this symposium is to bring together researchers working on non-eusocial animals with different social structures and ecologies. This may not only allow us to identify similarities in chemically mediated interactions across different taxa, but also provide insights into understanding how social signaling and sensory systems have evolved. It can therefore also complement and enhance our understanding of chemical communication in eusocial animals.

Martin Kaltenpoth (MPI for Chemical Ecology, Germany)

Symbiotic interactions with microorganisms play important roles for the ecology and evolution of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. While some symbioses form anew in every host generation, others maintain their association over generations, sometimes forming intimate partnerships lasting hundreds of millions of years. The interactions between symbiotic partners are mediated by chemicals, as are the processes determining the establishment and specificity of the associations. Spanning the diversity of microbe-microbe and microbe-host symbioses, this symposium will discuss novel findings on the chemical interplay between symbiotic partners and their importance in an ecological and evolutionary context.

Manfred Ayasse (Ulm University, Germany)
Samuel Boff (Ulm University, Germany)

Numerous studies show that man-made stressors can influence the production, release, and perception of chemical signals, disrupting chemical communication. In this symposium, we invite researchers studying the impact of various environmental stressors, such as pesticides, antibiotics, pollutants, and climatic stressors (drought, temperature), on intra- and interspecific chemical communication in insects. This encompasses communication among nestmates of social insects, between sexes within a species, and relationships between different insect species. We also welcome studies on the effects of stressors on interactions between insects and plants (pollinators, herbivores) or microbes. We sincerely appreciate your participation and look forward to welcoming you to this symposium.

Dorothea Tholl (Virginia Tech, USA)

Despite the plethora of specialized metabolites that are used in intra- and interspecific interactions, the genetic determinants and underlying biosynthetic pathways of many semiochemicals still remain obscure. Advanced genomics resources and refined metabolomics and computational approaches give exciting new insights into metabolite formation and evolution in chemical interactions. This symposium will explore the metabolism of semiochemicals and their biosynthetic evolution by showcasing the latest and unexpected discoveries of genes and pathways at all organismal scales.

Topics include but are not limited to: 1) the biosynthesis and molecular regulation of specialized metabolites/semiochemicals in all organisms from microbes to plants and animals; 2) metabolic gene evolution underlying chemical interactions; 3) effects of environmental factors on semiochemical metabolism; 4) synthetic biology of semiochemicals.

Stefan Schulz (TU Braunschweig, Germany)

Synthesis is a key technology in Chemical Ecology. It is used to confirm structural identification of compounds present only in minute amounts, allows access to stereoisomers for the elucidation of crucial absolute configuration of many compounds, and least but not last provides material for testing biological activities. It is useful on specific target compounds, such as is often the case in organismic interactions, but is also needed to allow metabolomic methods to stand on solid ground.
While polymeric material such a peptides, DNA or even carbohydrates can be prepared by automated systems, individual organic compounds usually need specialized synthetic approaches. Currently we need to raise interest in this filed, because the interest in synthesis of compounds of interest in our field is low. Furthermore, some compounds such urgently needed seem to be of low interest to synthetic chemists aiming usually either at complex compounds, new methodologies, or medicinally promising compounds. Having a symposium on this topic in the conference might rise awareness in this area. We also need to integrate new methods such as complete enzymatic synthesis to expand the toolbox to obtain synthetically difficult to approach compounds such as sesquiterpenes.

Abdullahi Yusuf (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
Christian Pirk (University of Pretoria, South Africa)

Eusociality has evolved several times in animals and is commonly found in ants, bees wasps, and termites as well as aphids, ambrosia beetles, thrips and shrimps. Although other evolutionary factors are responsible for the success of sociality, chemical communication is fundamental to the success of eusocial organisms in different habitats. Over the years, the way in which chemical ecology drives eusociality and associated behaviors have been studied in great detail from the organism up to the gene and protein levels. Thanks to advancement in analytical chemistry and, molecular genetics techniques driven by high precision instruments. This symposium aims to provide a platform for showcasing basic and applied research in eusociality ranging from behavioral, chemistry, organization, genetics, modelling etc. We aim to invite and provide a platform for young and upcoming researchers that are actively involved in the area of chemical communication in social insects.

Kaori Shiojiri (Ryukoku University, Japan)
Junji Takabayashi (Kyoto University, Japan)

Plants emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air and release specialized metabolites, including VOCs, into the soil in response to damage caused by herbivores or pathogen infections. When neighboring plants detect these chemicals, they initiate resistance responses against herbivores and pathogens. Additionally, plants can exchange damage cues and nutrients, such as nitrogen compounds and carbohydrates, with other plants through mycorrhizal fungi. These phenomena are called plant-plant communication and have been observed across various plant species. However, studies on these phenomena and the underlying mechanisms are often conducted separately. In this symposium, researchers will present and discuss their findings on plant-plant communication through plant-specialized metabolites and mycorrhizal fungi, emphasizing the linkage of above- and below-ground plant-plant communication.

Jonathan Bohbot (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)

Among insects, disease vector species exhibit the distinctive characteristic of interacting with animal and plant hosts. Such vectors are best known for their attraction to humans and the resulting impact of these encounters on animal production and human health. A much less appreciated aspect of their biology is their interactions with plant hosts and the sensory mechanisms involved with their detection. This duality in host sensing raises many questions about the nature of animal and plant host signals and how they are detected and integrated by these insects. In this symposium, we will focus on the chemical and sensory ecology aspects underpinning host interactions and selection.

Shuqing Xu (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany)
Gabriela Anjos De Stefano Escaliante (Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, Germany)
Omer Nevo (Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, Germany)
Linh M.N. Nguyen (Friedrich-Schiller University Jena, Germany)

Plants synthesize hundreds of thousands of volatile and non-volatile secondary metabolites, which are involved in both within- and between-species interactions. These interactions include plant-plant communication, interactions with microbes, vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores, pollinators, seed dispersers, and other mutualists and antagonists. A longstanding question is what drives the enormous diversity of secondary metabolites in the plant world. Multiple non-mutually exclusive hypotheses have been put forward, ranging from phylogenetic diversity, biochemical constraints, and ecological interaction diversity. Yet, answers to these questions are still open, primarily because, despite methodological developments of the past decades, much work in chemical ecology still focuses on the high-resolution disentanglement of the roles of key compounds in specific interactions. For instance, mounting evidence suggests that many plant defensive metabolites and their precursors are also involved in mediating cellular signals and regulating cell growth and differentiations. The session will explore the latest developments in the study of plant chemodiversity, the mechanisms and evolution of plant chemical defenses from different angles. Research on different model systems and types of interactions will be integrated to assess what factors increase or limit plant chemical diversity and to identify both common patterns and diverging trends in drivers of plant chemodiversity. Those talks will spark exciting discussions on how new technologies, such as single-cell omics, genetic editing, and experimental evolution, can provide novel insights into the evolutionary process of plant chemical defenses.

Nicoletta Faraone (Acadia University, Canada)
Kirk Hillier (Acadia University, Canada)

Acarines are economically and medically important pests with significant impacts on human health and agriculture. They comprise mites, which exhibit a diverse range of life strategies, including herbivory, predation, and ectoparasitism, and ticks, which have evolved to specialize in obligatory hematophagy. The feeding behaviours vary significantly between them. Mites showcase a range of feeding habits, acting as herbivores, predators, and parasites feeding on blood and keratin. In contrast, ticks are obligate blood feeders, primarily on humans and animals. The primary locations for chemoreception in acarines include the chelicerae, palps, and tarsi situated on the forelegs, housing a consistent sensory structure. However, the mechanism by which acarines perceive and respond to different chemical cues has not yet been elucidated. This symposium will gather recent studies focused on the chemical ecology of acarines, utilizing a combination of chemical analyses, electrophysiology, and behavioural assays, with a particular emphasis on the significance of behaviourally-relevant chemical cues. We aim to present a comprehensive collection of recent discoveries related to the chemosensory system of acarines, paving the way for a better understanding of their multimodal sensory system and the development of new, environmentally sustainable technologies for managing these pests. Contributions on chemical ecology of non-insect arthropods other than Acari are also welcome.

Robbie Girling (University of Southern Queensland, Australia)

The Anthropocene is having many significant and varied effects on the natural world, for example through climate change, land use change, ocean acidification, air pollution etc. Whilst the wider impacts of this human-induced change on biodiversity and ecosystem services have received significant attention, many of the mechanisms of these impacts are only beginning to be understood. The impacts of the Anthropocene on chemical ecology is an emerging field that is undergoing an intense period of growth, as the previously unexplored consequences or human activity on chemical communication are explored. This symposium will provide the opportunity for researchers from all branches of the chemical ecology family to come together to discuss the latest research on the impacts of human-induced change on the chemical ecology of both terrestrial and aquatic organisms. As such, the remit for the session will be broad and cover all aspects of environmental change in the Anthropocene and their impacts on chemical communication.

Ricardo A. R. Machado (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland)
Christelle A. M. Robert (University of Bern, Switzerland)

During this symposium, participating scientists will have the opportunity to present and discuss recent advances around the molecular and chemical factors that regulate the interaction between plants, herbivores, and their natural enemies. Potential topics include, but are not limited to: i) the role of plant chemistry in plant-herbivore interactions; ii) the molecular mechanisms by which herbivores are able to sequester, tolerate and/or detoxify plant toxins; iii) how plant chemistry regulate herbivore-natural enemy interactions; iv) and on the impact of environmental factors on these interactions.

Melissa Whitaker (East Tennessee State University, USA)
Monica Barman (IGZ, Germany)

Plants use chemicals to manipulate pollinating insects’ behavior through bribing – offering a reward to visiting pollinators, deceiving – tricking pollinators into visiting flowers that do not provide any reward, and drugging – distorting the cognitive functions of pollinators to enhance pollination. While the chemical basis of bribing and deceiving have been intensively studied in multiple pollinator systems, drugging has received very little attention in the context of plant-insect interactions in general. This is a major gap in the study of chemical ecology of plant-insect interactions, especially as the floral rewards of many plant groups contain non-nutritional secondary compounds such as biogenic amines, addictive alkaloids, and other neuromodulators. While some of these compounds, e.g. alkaloids, have demonstrated effects on pollinator learning, memory, and valuation of floral quality, the neurological and ecological consequences of most compounds remain mysterious. This symposium will bring together leading researchers investigating the chemical manipulation of insect pollinators’ cognitive function by plants. This nascent sub-discipline of chemical ecology promises to elucidate more nuanced roles of secondary compounds while revealing the ecological and evolutionary significance of drugging in plant-insect interactions.

Aijun Zhang (USDA-ARS, USA)
Jian Chen (USDA-ARS, USA)

Semiochemcial are chemicals used by insects and other animals to communicate with each other and/or environmental. Insects send the chemical signals to help attract mates, warn or alert another of the same species of impending danger, repel others of predators, or find food. Growers/farmers also can use these specific semiochemicals to trap, detect, monitor, and control the target pests in agriculture or in residential areas. Many cost-effective, safe, and environmentally friendly insect pest management strategies using semiochemicals have been developed and utilized in IPM program to reduce the conventional pesticide usage. The purpose of the proposed symposium is to provide the platform and opportunity for participants to directly interact with top international scientists, exchange idea, learn innovative research techniques, and search potential opportunities to conduct collaborative research on sustainable insect pest management to protect our eco-system.

Jörg Hardege (University of Hull, UK)
Christina Roggatz (University of Bremen, Germany)

Chemically-mediated interactions play a central role in coordinating life in our Oceans. From microbes to sharks and microalgae to seagrass, chemical metabolites are employed in facilitating a wide range of organismal interactions including predator-prey relationships, defense, foraging, reproduction, larval settlement and many more aspects of marine life. This symposium will provide a platform for exchange for all those who investigate aquatic chemical ecology from molecular studies, ecology, evolution, behaviour, to applied aspects. We also welcome submissions evaluating the stability and lability of chemical signal based functional traits in a changing world.

J. Paul Cunningham (Agriculture Victoria, Australia)
R. Andrew Hayes (University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia)

Insect attractants are an essential component of traps used to monitor and control a wide range of agricultural pests. This symposium will focus on the design and evaluation of field-effective synthetic lures that are based on naturally occurring attractants, such as pheromones, host plant volatiles, and microbial odours. Talks that will be considered include studies identifying volatile attractants (e.g. electrophysiology, chemical analysis, behaviour), blend formulation, dispenser design/release rates, and field evaluation. The focus here is on synthetic (artificial) lures as opposed to those using natural substances directly, and on how to find the right mix of volatiles that will attract the target pest species in an agricultural, horticultural or forestry setting often against a backdrop of odours.

This symposium will present Interesting contributions that do not fit to other symposia


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