Jena, Germany

The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology is located on Beutenberg Campus in Jena, Germany. It was founded in March 1996 and is one of 80 institutes of the Max Planck Society . Chemical ecology examines the role of chemical signals that mediate the interactions between plants, animals, and their environment, as well as the evolutionary and behavioral consequences of these interactions.About 175 scientists, among them many PhD candidates and students, do their research in five departments and three research groups. Department of Molecular Ecology Department of Bioorganic Chemistry Department of Biochemistry Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology Department of Entomology Max Planck Research Group Insect Symbiosis NMRProteomics Research Group Wikipedia.


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Dicke M.,Wageningen University | Baldwin I.T.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Trends in Plant Science | Year: 2010

Attacks by herbivores elicit changes in the bouquet of volatiles released by plants. These herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs) have been interpreted as being indirect defenses. However, given that no studies have yet investigated whether HIPVs benefit the fitness of a plant, their defensive function remains to be established. Moreover, herbivores, pathogens, pollinators and competitors also respond to HIPVs and, in addition, neighbouring plants in native populations also emit volatiles that provide a background odour. These considerations enrich the evolutionary context of HIPVs and complicate predictions about their adaptive value. Molecular advances in our understanding of HIPV signaling and biosynthesis is enabling the creation of HIPV-'mute' and possibly HIPV-'deaf' plants. As we discuss here, such plants could be used for unbiased examination of the fitness value of HIPV emissions under natural conditions. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Hormesis is a biphasic biological response characterized by the stimulatory effect at relatively low amounts of chemical compounds which are otherwise detrimental at higher concentrations. A hormetic response in larval growth rates has been observed in cotton-feeding insects in response to increasing concentrations of gossypol, a toxic metabolite found in the pigment glands of some plants in the family Malvaceae. We investigated the developmental effect of gossypol in the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, an important heliothine pest species, by exposing larvae to different doses of this metabolite in their diet. In addition, we sought to determine the underlying transcriptional responses to different gossypol doses. Larval weight gain, pupal weight and larval development time were measured in feeding experiments and a hormetic response was seen for the first two characters. On the basis of net larval weight gain responses to gossypol, three concentrations (0%, 0.016% and 0.16%) were selected for transcript profiling in the gut and the rest of the body in a two-color double reference design microarray experiment. Hormesis could be observed at the transcript level, since at the low gossypol dose, genes involved in energy acquisition such as β-fructofuranosidases were up-regulated in the gut, and genes involved in cell adhesion were down-regulated in the body. Genes with products predicted to be integral to the membrane or associated with the proteasome core complex were significantly affected by the detrimental dose treatment in the body. Oxidoreductase activity-related genes were observed to be significantly altered in both tissues at the highest gossypol dose. This study represents the first transcriptional profiling approach investigating the effects of different concentrations of gossypol in a lepidopteran species. H. armigera's transcriptional response to gossypol feeding is tissue- and dose-dependent and involves diverse detoxifying mechanisms not only to alleviate direct effects of gossypol but also indirect damage such as pH disturbance and oxygen radical formation. Genes discovered through this transcriptional approach may be additional candidates for understanding gossypol detoxification and coping with gossypol-induced stress. In a generalist herbivore that has evolved transcriptionally-regulated responses to a variety of different plant compounds, hormesis may be due to a lower induction threshold of growth-promoting, stress-coping responses and a higher induction threshold of detoxification pathways that are costly and cause collateral damage to the cell.


Wu J.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology | Baldwin I.T.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Annual Review of Genetics | Year: 2010

Plants have evolved sophisticated systems to cope with herbivore challenges. When plants perceive herbivore-derived physical and chemical cues, such as elicitors in insects' oral secretions and compounds in oviposition fluids, plants dramatically reshape their transcriptomes, proteomes, and metabolomes. All these herbivory-induced changes are mediated by elaborate signaling networks, which include receptors sensors, Ca2 influxes, kinase cascades, reactive oxygen species, and phytohormone signaling pathways. Furthermore, herbivory induces defense responses not only in the wounded regions but also in undamaged regions in the attacked leaves and in distal intact (systemic) leaves. Here, we review recent progress in understanding plant perception of herbivory and oviposition, and the herbivory-induced early signaling events and their biological functions. We consider the intraspecific phenotypic diversity of plant responses to herbivory and discuss the underlying genetic variation. We also discuss new tools and technical challenges in studying plant-herbivore interactions. © 2010 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


Stensmyr M.C.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Current Biology | Year: 2012

Fish, like many other animals, panic when another individual is injured. Now, the chemical nature of a substance that mediates this reaction has been uncovered. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Pauchet Y.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

The primary plant cell wall comprises the most abundant polysaccharides on the Earth and represents a rich source of energy for organisms which have evolved the ability to digest them. Enzymes able to degrade plant cell wall polysaccharides are widely distributed in micro-organisms but are generally absent in animals, although their presence in insects, especially phytophagous beetles from the superfamilies Chrysomeloidea and Curculionoidea, has recently begun to be appreciated. The observed patchy distribution of endogenous genes encoding these enzymes in animals has raised questions about their evolutionary origins. Recent evidence suggests that endogenous plant cell wall degrading enzymes-encoding genes have been acquired by animals through a mechanism known as horizontal gene transfer (HGT). HGT describes how genetic material is moved by means other than vertical inheritance from a parent to an offspring. Here, we provide evidence that the mustard leaf beetle, Phaedon cochleariae, possesses in its genome genes encoding active xylanases from the glycoside hydrolase family 11 (GH11). We also provide evidence that these genes were originally acquired by P. cochleariae from a species of gammaproteobacteria through HGT. This represents the first example of the presence of genes from the GH11 family in animals.


Linz J.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

Finding appropriate feeding and breeding sites is crucial for all insects. To fulfil this vital task, many insects rely on their sense of smell. Alterations in the habitat--or in lifestyle--should accordingly also be reflected in the olfactory system. Solid functional evidence for direct adaptations in the olfactory system is however scarce. We have, therefore, examined the sense of smell of Drosophila erecta, a close relative of Drosophila melanogaster and specialist on screw pine fruits (Pandanus spp.). In comparison with three sympatric sibling species, D. erecta shows specific alterations in its olfactory system towards detection and processing of a characteristic Pandanus volatile (3-methyl-2-butenyl acetate, 3M2BA). We show that D. erecta is more sensitive towards this substance, and that the increased sensitivity derives from a numerical increase of one olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) class. We also show that axons from these OSNs form a complex of enlarged glomeruli in the antennal lobe, the first olfactory brain centre, of D. erecta. Finally, we show that 3M2BA induces oviposition in D. erecta, but not in D. melanogaster. The presumed adaptations observed here follow to a remarkable degree those found in Drosophila sechellia, a specialist upon noni fruit, and suggest a general principle for how specialization affects the sense of smell.


Heckel D.G.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Science | Year: 2012

Combating insecticide resistance is a continual challenge for the preservation of both traditional and transgenic crops.


Svatos A.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Analytical Chemistry | Year: 2011

Modern mass spectrometry is ready to explore individual cell metabolomes, and 4 massive advances in medicinal and biological applications may be expected in a near future. © 2011 American Chemical Society.


Svatos A.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Trends in Biotechnology | Year: 2010

Small molecules are defined as low molecular weight organic compounds (typically <1000. Da), which could be either natural or artificial. Because established imaging methods are not able to selectively detect the positions, concentrations and structures of small molecules in biological samples, new methods have been developed. This review summarizes recent technological developments in one such method, mass spectrometric imaging (MSI). Lipids, hydrocarbons, sugars, phenolics, alkaloids, antibiotics, pharmaceutical and agrochemical compounds, bacterial, plant, and insect-defensive and semiochemical compounds are covered. Additionally, the latest MSI methods as well as sample preparation, imaging software, and medical and biological applications will be discussed. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Mithofer A.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology | Boland W.,Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Annual Review of Plant Biology | Year: 2012

Plants have evolved a plethora of different chemical defenses covering nearly all classes of (secondary) metabolites that represent a major barrier to herbivory: Some are constitutive; others are induced after attack. Many compounds act directly on the herbivore, whereas others act indirectly via the attraction of organisms from other trophic levels that, in turn, protect the plant. An enormous diversity of plant (bio)chemicals are toxic, repellent, or antinutritive for herbivores of all types. Examples include cyanogenic glycosides, glucosinolates, alkaloids, and terpenoids; others are macromolecules and comprise latex or proteinase inhibitors. Their modes of action include membrane disruption, inhibition of nutrient and ion transport, inhibition of signal transduction processes, inhibition of metabolism, or disruption of the hormonal control of physiological processes. Recognizing the herbivore challenge and precise timing of plant activities as well as the adaptive modulation of the plants' metabolism is important so that metabolites and energy may be efficiently allocated to defensive activities. © 2012 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

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