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Issue 5, 2018
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Influence of microbial symbionts on insect pheromones

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Covering: up to 2018

Pheromones serve as chemical signals between individuals of the same species and play important roles for mate localization and mate choice as well as other social interactions in insects. A growing body of literature indicates that microbial symbionts can modulate their hosts' chemical profiles, mate choice decisions and social behavior. This modulation can occur by the direct biosynthesis of pheromone components or the provisioning of precursors, or through general changes in the metabolite pool of the host and its resource allocation into pheromone production. Here we review and discuss the contexts in which microbial modulation of intraspecific communication in insects occurs and emphasize cases in which microbes are known to affect the involved chemistry. The described examples for a symbiotic influence on mate attraction and mate choice, aggregation, nestmate and kin recognition highlight the context-dependent costs and benefits of these symbiotic interactions and the potential for conflict and manipulation among the interacting partners. However, despite the increasing number of studies reporting on symbiont-mediated effects on insect chemical communication, experimentally validated connections between the presence of specific symbionts, changes in the host's chemistry, and behavioral effects thereof, remain limited to very few systems, highlighting the need for increased collaborative efforts between symbiosis researchers and chemical ecologists to gain more comprehensive insights into the influence of microbial symbionts on insect pheromones.

Graphical abstract: Influence of microbial symbionts on insect pheromones

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Publication details

The article was received on 21 Dec 2017 and first published on 22 Mar 2018

Article type: Highlight
DOI: 10.1039/C7NP00068E
Citation: Nat. Prod. Rep., 2018,35, 386-397
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    Influence of microbial symbionts on insect pheromones

    T. Engl and M. Kaltenpoth, Nat. Prod. Rep., 2018, 35, 386
    DOI: 10.1039/C7NP00068E

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