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Next Generation Insect Chemical Ecology

This is the preliminary home page for the Max Planck Center: next Generation Insect Chemical Ecology (nGICE) with the official opening January 2020.

A Max Planck Center is not a building, it is a high level cooperation between the Max Planck Society and Universities abroad. The purpose is to allocate complementary resources, such as scientific expertise, techniques and equipment, to an urgent research field during 5 years. All partners contribute equally to the funding. The nGICE Center focuses on a better understanding of the consequences of global change on insect ecosystem services, outbreaks of invasive insect species and the spread of disease vectors into Europe through the lens of insect chemical communication systems. 

Background:
In the recent years of the Anthropocene era, there have been increasingly unexpected changes in insect distribution and behaviour: bark beetles spread north in Europe and cross the Rocky mountains in Canada and USA, and attack new hosts; mosquitoes change their distribution and behaviour increasing the spread of disease into new areas; and pest insects in general expand to new territories and crops. Disturbingly, along with the general decline of insect biomass across Europe, pollinators are decreasing in abundance, while outbreaks of tropical vector-borne diseases are becoming more frequent due to a warmer climate. In the perspective of evolution, changes are happening on an extremely rapid time scale. These new phenomena have, and will continue to have, strong effects on global ecology, agriculture and public health.

The overall aim of the Max Planck Center on next Generation Insect Chemical Ecology (nGICE)  is to understand the consequences of global change on insect ecosystem services, outbreaks of invasive insect species and the spread of disease vectors into Europe through the lens of insect chemical communication systems.

  • We will define the immediate, the second order and core/stable traits that follow the system perturbation instigated by global change over different time scales.
  • We will study the adaptive plasticity and effect of host shift from the evolution of chemosensory genes to that of chemical communication systems.
  • We will develop a more fundamental and predictive framework for the study of global effects on insect chemical ecology.

The Max Planck Center next Generation Insect Chemical Ecology (nGICE) has been made possible by the complementary and synergistic expertise, technology and model systems available at three world-leading centres for chemical ecology. Together, we will reach a critical mass of competence, techniques, and equipment to efficiently establish and implement the proposed novel research programme. The scope of the platform will also allow effective education of graduate students and junior scientists concerning the broader challenges faced by insects in the background of global change, build a network of next generation chemical ecologists, facilitate their internationalization through the exchange among the partners and train them in both research and popular science communication.