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Pure Appl. Chem., 2007, Vol. 79, No. 12, pp. 2305-2323

Chemical ecology = chemistry + ecology!*

Gunnar Bergström

Chemical Ecology, Göteborg University, Kolonigatan 3, SE-41321 Göteborg, Sweden

Abstract: Chemical ecology (CE) is an active, interdisciplinary field between chemistry and biology, which, stimulated by natural curiosity and possible applied aspects, has grown to its present position during the last 40-odd years. This area has now achieved a degree of maturity with its own journals, its own international society with annual meetings, and many enthusiastic scientists in laboratories around the world. The focus is on chemical communication and other chemical interactions between organisms, including volatile chemical signals, which guide behaviors linked to various vital needs. It reflects both biodiversity and chemodiversity. All living organisms have these important signal systems, which go back to the origins of life. Successful work in this area has called for close collaboration between chemists and biologists of different descriptions. It is thus a good example of chemistry for biology. The aim of the article is to give a short introduction to the field, with an emphasis on the role of chemistry in a biological context by: giving an overview of the development of the area; showing some examples of studies of chemical communication in insects and plants, basically from our own work; and describing some current trends and tendencies and possible future developments.
*Invited contribution to a collection of papers for the IUPAC project 2005-042-1-300 "Chemistry for Biology". Other contributions to the project are published in this issue, pp. 2179-2366.