chemical ecology

The Chemical Ecology group helps develop nature-based solutions for managing pests and improving pollination services. We focus on naturally produced metabolites used by animals and plants to mediate interactions with each other and their surroundings. Through applied and fundamental research on animal communication, plant biochemistry, and natural enemies and pathogens of pests, our work improves human, animal, and plant health without harmful effects on the environment. We also seek to understand how global change influences these interactions. 

Our group has an international reputation for identification, synthesis, formulation and application of natural chemical attractants and repellents established over more than 50 years of work. Our work supports sustainable agriculture worldwide through a One Health framework, and encompasses studies of crop pests, vectors of animal and human diseases, pollinators, and entomopathogenic fungi.

We explore how plant-derived chemicals can improve both pollination services and the health of pollinator communities and studying the nutritional quality of floral resources for bees to inform landscape interventions and commercial feed supplements.  We are improving natural pest regulation and pollination services in small holder farming systems through field margin manipulation and optimising the efficacy of environmentally benign botanical pesticides. 

Our work is supported by a range of laboratory facilities including those for chemical analysis and synthesis, formulation development, electrophysiological recording, laboratory and greenhouse bioassays using wind tunnels, olfactometers and servosphere, and maintenance of exotic insects and other organisms. We are also fully involved in field work to evaluate and demonstrate new research outputs both in the UK and overseas.

The Group includes specialists in chemistry, entomology, electrophysiology, and plant biochemistry. We work with a wide range of collaborating organisations and industrial partners in the UK, Europe, and low-income countries. Members of the Group lecture and publish widely and are long-standing members of the international chemical ecology community.

Group Leaders

Dr Daniel P Bray

Associate Professor in Chemical Ecology

+44 (0)1634 88 3729

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