Behavioural and Chemical Ecology

Research conducted in the icipe Behavioural and Chemical Ecology Unit (BCEU) focuses on the development of environmentally-sound methods to reduce or suppress  target pest populations, and to increase populations of beneficial insects including natural enemies of these pests.

Studies are also conducted to conserve beneficials such as honeybees. Central to BCEU’s activities is the identification, formulation and evaluation of pheromones, kairomones, allomones and hormones mediating insect/arthropod behaviour. 

The Unit is well equipped with various analytical chemistry instruments including volatile collection systems (VCS), gas chromatographs (GCs), coupled gas chromatography-electroantennographic detection (GC-EAD) system, GC-mass spectrometer (GC-MS), and a liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometer (LC-MS) to carry out its research objectives.  BCEU is also equipped with various instruments to study insect behaviour. Capacity building is an integral part of research activities in BCEU.

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Research Instrumentation

Ability to perform high end scientific research with efficiency, economy and timely acceptable outputs is greatly influenced by availability of co-measure rate and reliable research grade instrumentation support capacity. The Behavioral and Chemical Ecology Unit has over the years constantly invested immense resources in strategic analytical equipment acquisition necessary to maintain not only presence but also the necessary sustainable top notch analytical capacity within the institution, recognizable within the region and among pear research organizations worldwide. Identification of analytical capacity lapses and key chemical analysis, behavioral experimental support and sample processing equipment deficiencies has enabled the BCEU to strategically scale up both the analytical ability and coverage for chemical analysis and behavioral experiments eliminating most need for outsourcing such services. Availability of advanced equipment brings along the associated challenge of co-measure rate and sustainable user resource development. This is catered for through steady continuous internal capacity building involving operator and applications training for user scientists, technical staff, and students to acquire the necessary operating competencies. As part of regional capacity building interns from local academic and research organizations are similarly introduced to the advanced instrumentation trainings. The BCEU laboratories currently host the following key research equipment among others:

Waters Technologies SYNAPT G2-Si                                    LC/ QToF – Mass Spectrometer

Waters Technologies XEVO TQS                                          LC/ QQQ - Mass Spectrometer

2 of Agilent Technologies 6120 Single Quad                         LC/ MS   - Mass Spectrometer

Agilent Technologies 5975C TA Single Quad                        GC-MSD - Mass Spectrometer

Agilent Technologies 5977A Ext TA Single Quad                  GC-MSD - Mass Spectrometer

3 of Agilent Technologies 7890B FID, ECD                           Gas Chromatographs

Agilent Technologies 7890B GC/ SSR coupled                     Single Sensillum Receptor

HP 5890 Series II GC-FID/ EAD                                            GC-Electro-Antennogram Detector

Shimadzu Prominence Analytical & Semi Prep HPLC’s        Liquid Chromatograph’s

Shimadzu Nexera Analytical UPLC                                       Liquid Chromatograph

Etho-Vision behavior monitoring equipment