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  • Chemical signals in the sea

Chemical signals in the sea

Jacques Cousteau pioneered the exploration of the underwater world when he co-directed the 1956 film “Le Monde du silence” (The Silent World). The sea is less silent than was first believed, although it consists mostly of darkness and marine organisms which are often restricted to the use of chemical and hydromechanical stimuli in identifying their surroundings.

Chemical signals mediate the most important interactions in marine ecology, including mate-finding, detection of prey, and avoidance of predators. Signalling compounds shape large-scale processes including biogeochemical cycles, community composition and food web dynamics, and they are key to our understanding of the marine ecosystem.

At the Department of Marine Sciences we study chemically mediated interactions between marine organisms. We isolate and characterise signalling compounds and defensive metabolites using state-of-the-art analytical chemistry. In our hydromechanical laboratory we explore the propagation of signals and other compounds in water together with the behavioral response they induce in responding organisms. We study primarily plant-herbivore and host-pathogen interactions in marine macroalgae and plankton. We pursue issues related to both basic and applied research. Examples include searching for natural anti-fouling compounds produced by marine organisms which are of potential use in anti-fouling paints, and screening marine organisms for bioactive metabolites possessing new and unique properties (bioprospecting).


Centre for Marine Chemical Ecology

CeMaCE is a centre at The Faculty of Science.

Page Manager: Bo Johannesson|Last update: 5/3/2018

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