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Honey Bee Alarm Pheromone Mediates Communication in Plant–Pollinator–Predator Interactions

by Zhengwei Wang 1,2,* and Ken Tan 1,2,*
CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650000, China
Center for Plant Ecology, Core Botanical Gardens, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla 666303, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2019, 10(10), 366;
Received: 16 September 2019 / Revised: 18 October 2019 / Accepted: 18 October 2019 / Published: 21 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Honeybee Neurobiology and Behavior)
Honey bees play a crucial role in pollination, and in performing this critical function, face numerous threats from predators and parasites during foraging and homing trips. Back in the nest, their defensive behavior drives some individuals to sacrifice themselves while fighting intruders with their stingers or mandibles. During these intense conflicts, bees release alarm pheromone to rapidly communicate with other nest mates about the present danger. However, we still know little about why and how alarm pheromone is used in plant–pollinator–predator interactions. Here, we review the history of previously detected bee alarm pheromones and the current state of the chemical analyses. More new components and functions have been confirmed in honey bee alarm pheromone. Then, we ask how important the alarm pheromones are in intra- and/or inter-species communication. Some plants even adopt mimicry systems to attract either the pollinators themselves or their predators for pollination via alarm pheromone. Pheromones are honest signals that evolved in one species and can be one of the main driving factors affecting co-evolution in plant–pollinator–predator interactions. Our review intends to stimulate new studies on the neuronal, molecular, behavioral, and evolutionary levels in order to understand how alarm pheromone mediates communication in plant–pollinator–predator interactions. View Full-Text
Keywords: olfaction; isopentyl acetate; honest signal; I-see-you signal; mimicry olfaction; isopentyl acetate; honest signal; I-see-you signal; mimicry
MDPI and ACS Style

Wang, Z.; Tan, K. Honey Bee Alarm Pheromone Mediates Communication in Plant–Pollinator–Predator Interactions. Insects 2019, 10, 366.

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