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Chemical ecology is the study integrating chemistry and biology to examine the chemical interactions among organisms and their environment. It includes signalling processes and communication between individuals, for instance in hormone responses.
Plants are able to prime anti-herbivore defenses in response to olfactory cues of insect pests. Here, Helms et al. identify the insect pheromone E,S-conophthorin produced by the goldenrod gall fly as the specific chemical component that elicits this priming response in goldenrod plants.
The emerging field of omics has the potential to advance and strengthen research into endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In this Opinion article, Andrea Baccarelli and colleagues discuss the potential of using omics technologies — both established and developing — to characterize present and past EDC exposures and predict risk of developing EDC-related diseases.
The gene cluster that produces the sponge-derived cytotoxin calyculin A has been located in an uncultivated bacterial symbiont. Biochemical analyses reveal a pyrophosphorylated protoxin as the true biosynthetic product and suggest that calyculins result from activated chemical defense.
A study of an insect prenyltransferase demonstrates that the product specificity of this bifunctional enzyme can be regulated by the presence of different divalent metal cofactors, resulting, for example, in the production of the precursors for either insect defense compounds or developmental hormones.