Laboratory of Chemical and Behavioural Ecology

The main research areas are chemical ecology – interactions between organisms and with their environment through infochemical signals, ecological aspects of animal behaviour, and evolutionary ecology of insects.

The laboratory brings together biologists and chemists to reveal the intra- and interspecific chemoecological interactions of organisms and to understand how these interactions function in nature. The list of objects studied is very broad: plants, insects, nematodes, microorganisms (fungi, bacteria) and even mammals.

Pheromonal communication is one of the main research areas. Pheromones of over 50 insect species have been discovered in the laboratory and their chemical structure identified. Interspecific  tritrophic interactions between microorganisms, plants and insects are also a major focus in our lab. Researchers are also involved in the identification of compounds emitted by plants and microorganisms, acting as insect attractants or repellents. Pheromones and compounds of microorganism or plant origin are used for monitoring and (bio)control of important plant pests.

Chemoecological interactions are investigated by electrophysiological, chemical and behavioural methods, which can be implemented with the equipment available in the laboratory. A gas chromatograph with two parallel detectors: a flame ionisation and electrophysiological detector (GC-EAD) and a gas chromatograph with a mass selective detector (GC-MS) allow the detection and identification of biologically active compounds. Several types of olfactometers and the video tracking software EthoVision XT enable the observation and analysis of the behaviour, movement and activity of animals (including insects) toward the biologically active substances.

Molecular methods are used in the studies of insect evolutionary ecology. Focus is put on the taxonomy, genetic diversity, speciation and phylogeny of wasps (Pemphredonidae, Psenidae, Vespidae, Chrysididae). The taxocene composition of trap-nesting Hymenoptera and anthropogenic impacts on it are assessed. Considerable attention is paid to the Lithuanian fauna of Hymenoptera and Orthoptera and the effects of climate change on it, as well as to the conservation of the genetic diversity of native subspecies of the Lithuanian honeybee.