The evolution of pheromone diversity

Trends Ecol Evol. 2008 Apr;23(4):220-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.11.009. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Pheromones are chemical signals whose composition varies enormously between species. Despite pheromones being a nearly ubiquitous form of communication, particularly among insects, our understanding of how this diversity has arisen, and the processes driving the evolution of pheromones, is less developed than that for visual and auditory signals. Studies of phylogeny, genetics and ecological processes are providing new insights into the patterns, mechanisms and drivers of pheromone evolution, and there is a wealth of information now available for analysis. Future research could profitably use these data by employing phylogenetic comparative techniques to identify ecological correlates of pheromone composition. Genetic analyses are also needed to gain a clearer picture of how changes in receivers are associated with changes in the signal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Insecta / classification
  • Insecta / genetics
  • Molecular Mimicry / genetics
  • Pheromones / genetics*
  • Phylogeny


  • Pheromones