Chemical communication: does odor plume shape matter?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper


Many insects use chemical information to gather information about their environment. Infochemicals are spread into the environment as the wind disperses the odor molecules from the source. The structure of an odor plume around a food source is complex and time-dependent. At a large scale, it meanders as it moves with the wind. At a smaller scale, patches with odors are interspersed with regions of clean air. In this study, we compare a plume model that takes the features of a real odor plume into account, a so-called filamentous plume model, with a simplified, time-averaged model, which is commonly used in the literature, and we investigate by simulation their effect on a modeled fruit fly population. During foraging Drosophila melanogaster is attracted to food odors and its aggregation pheromone. Ample knowledge on the attraction to these infochemicals in an experimental set-up exist in the literature. The comparison of the plumes in a simulation study clearly showed that the filamentous plume attracted more fruit flies towards the source than the time-averaged plume. We discuss the results in the light of experimental findings.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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