化学生态组

CE Group

The Chemical Ecology Group fully takes advantage of South Western China’s biodiversity, focusing on pollinator protection and conservation. We are mainly interested in 1) the interaction between bees and their environment (such as toxic nectar, pesticides, etc.); 2) coevolution between bees, plants, and predators.

The Chemical Ecology Group published 27 SCI papers from 2012 to 2016. XTBG was the main (first) institute of 20 papers (Q1, 7 of top 10, total impact factors reach to 68.49).

We had several interesting findings in regards to the study of honeybee chemical ecology and behavior, which drew the attention of other scientists and media. Such as the paper “Giant Asian honeybees use olfactory eavesdropping to detect and avoid ant predators” published in Animal Behaviour, soon was reported as “Featured Articles: Honeybees eavesdrop on their ant predators”; another paper “Honey bee inhibitory signaling is tuned to threat severity and can act as a colony alarm signal” published in PLoS Biology which was the first time to reveal the acoustic alarm signal exist in insects.

Other research:

Environment effects on pollinators: We found that pesticides could impair bee olfactory learning and memory (Tan et al., 2013), and that pesticides even reduce bee avoidance of predators (Tan et al., 2014). We also uncovered that bees modulate their olfactory learning in the presence of predators or any risk-indicating chemicals (Wang et al., 2016). Finally, we have found that bees can change their dances to inform and protect the colony in the event of bad food resources (Tan et al., 2012).

Dilemma of bee choice: Honeybees tune colony and individual foraging in response to predator presence and food quality (Tan et al., 2013) and also tradeoff in nectar temperature and nectar concentration (Tan et al., 2014). However, phantom alternatives may influence honeybee food preferences (Tan et al., 2015).

Coevolution between bees and predators: We were the first to find out that bees can detect predators via chemicals left on flowers (Li et al., 2014a), some bees are still caught by predators, and they may alert other colony members with alarm pheromones (Li et al., 2014b). This chemical alarm was recently proved to not only exist within the same bee species, but also among different bee species (such as Apis cerana, Apis mellifera and Apis dorsata)(Wang et al., 2016). The hornet (Vespa velutina) and eastern honey bee (Apis cerana) have cohabitated the same area for a long time, thus when hornets hover in front of a bee hive, the honey bee will show an “I SEE YOU” prey-predator signal to repel hornets getting too close (Tan et al., 2012), and this is an example of an honest and innate signal (Tan et al., 2013).