By Emily Wortman-Wunder, Jorge Vivanco, Mark W. Paschke (auth.), Jorge M. Vivanco, Tiffany Weir (eds.)

The mystique of the rainforest has captured the imaginations of generations of youngsters, explorers, authors, and biologists. it's a gentle atmosphere whose myriad sounds and scents, whose vibrancy of existence, is balanced through consistent cycles of demise and rot. it's a position of fierce festival the place strange partnerships are cast and inventive survival recommendations are the norm. during this ebook, you'll meet the medical pioneers who first tried to quantify and comprehend the monstrous range of those tropical forests, in addition to their successors, who make the most of glossy instruments and applied sciences to dissect the chemical nature of rainforest interactions.

This ebook presents a basic heritage on biodiversity and the learn of chemical ecology earlier than entering into particular chemical examples of insect defenses and microbial conversation. It finishes with first-hand debts of the pains and tribulations of a cover biology pioneer and a rainforest examine amateur, whereas assessing the country of contemporary tropical learn, its value to humanity, and the ecological, political, and moral concerns that have to be tackled so that it will circulate the sphere forward.

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John Daly of National Institutes of Health describes how he embarked in 1963 on “what was considered dangerous field work” to collect specimens of Dendrobatidae frogs (Daly 1995). He and his colleagues soon found that if these frogs were raised in captivity they did not possess the toxic alkaloids for which they were famous; he later discovered that these toxins were sequestered from prey, including ants and mites (Daly 1995). In his review of his life’s work, Daly reiterates the importance of technology: technical advances in the 1990s made possible chemical revelations related to Dendrobatidae life history that would have been impossible 15 years before (Daly 1998).

Free, New York Halligan JP (1976) Toxicity of Artemisia californica to four associated herb species. Am Midl Nat 95:406–421 Hays WST (2003) Human pheremones: have they been demonstrated? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54:89–97 Horiuchi J, Prithiviraj B, Bais HP, Kimball BA, Vivanco JM (2005) Soil nematodes mediate positive interactions between legume plants and rhizobium bacteria. Planta 222:848–857 Horiuchi J, Badri DV, Kimball BA, Negre F, Dudareva N, Paschke MW, Vivanco JM (2007) The floral volatile, methyl benzoate, from snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) triggers phytotoxic effects in Arabidopsis thaliana.

We have always known that plants communicate with animals, particularly insects, using chemicals. However, plants have now been shown to communicate with bacteria, fungi, and other plants using chemicals. Some of this communication is startlingly specific, and much of it appears to have been developed over many years of coevolution. Research into information exchange between plants has benefited greatly from new molecular and genetic techniques and is still very much in progress: while there are some areas of plant chemical ecology that are now considered basic tenets, many of the most fascinating hypotheses, such as interplant alarm systems and allelopathy, have yet to be satisfactorily demonstrated.

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