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Small Things Considered: Ringing a Microbial Dinner Bell

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a short Small Things Considered essay describing the diverse roles that odors can play in microbiology. Articles here and there written by others attest to a growing interest in sociomicrobiology. As for myself, I have long suspected that microbes are constantly sending and responding to a wide communication ‘bandwidth’ of rich chemical chatter, and that other organisms can use or eavesdrop on those signals. Such communication is common in the eukaryotic world, conveyed by a variety of chemical messages or semiochemicals with myriad effects.

Thus, I was charmed by a recent article by Pascal Leroy and coworkers, as well as the accompanying Research Highlights essay. The researchers report how it is that the hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus is able to locate its prey, the pea aphid Ayrthrosiphon pisum. As you might guess, reading this blog, there is indeed a microbial component to this story.

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