The primary mission of the unit is to isolate, purify, chemically identify,and synthesize pheromones and other semiochemicals that control, regulate, or modify many types of insect behavior. The key behaviors, vital to the survival and reproduction of some of the most destructive pests of both field crops and stored products, are the primary targets of investigations conducted by this unit. These behaviors include reproduction, oviposition, foraging behavior of beneficial parasitic insects, and a number of behaviors associated with plant-insect interactions. Additionally the unit is responsible for investigating the biochemical mechanisms of production and release of semiochemicals and their perception by insects and the relationship of these mechanisms to chemical structures and insect behavior. Improved methods of analysis are developed to resolve and elucidate complex mixtures that are encountered, and new and novel routes by which these chemicals can be synthesized in a high degree of isomeric purity are devised. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop new, environmentally safe methods for practical control of insect pests.
Peter Teal (Research Leader)