Dr. Alexander Haverkamp

   Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology
   Odor-guided behavior
 Phone:+49 (0)3641 57 1459Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
 Fax:-Hans-Knöll-Straße 8
  emailD-07745 Jena

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“Good Heavens what inscet can suck it” with these words of astonishment Charles Darwin (1862) predicted the intimet association between flowers and hawkmoth and by recognizing the connection between the hawkmoth proboscis and the corolla tube of the flower he established one of the most impressive examples of co-evolution between flowering plants and insects.

Flowers pollinated by hawkmoth, however, can not only be distinguished by their long corolla tubes, but do also show a number of other characteristics, in particular a strong odor production. This has triggered my interest to the question whether the odor production by the plant and the perception of these odors by the moth has also coevolved in such close connection as the moth proboscis and the flowers corolla tube.

Searching for nectar by flight is a very costly and tiring undertaking, asking for sensitive and reliable detection system in order to find flowers quickly. Sensory neurons, however, are very demanding and costly cells as well. I am, therefore, very intrigued by how Manduca solved the conflict between minimising its foraging time while limiting its neuronal expenditures. We hypothesised that innate search images for the odour bouquets of suitable flowers help the hawkmoth to solve this conflict and we are currently testing this idea with a mixed set of behavioural and neurobiological studies.
last updated on 2015-12-07