The extended genotype: microbially mediated olfactory communication

Alexandra J. R. Carthey*, Michael R. Gillings, Daniel T. Blumstein

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)


    Microbes are now known to influence inter- and intraspecific olfactory signaling systems. They do so by producing metabolites that function as odorants. A unique attribute of such odorants is that they arise as a product of microbial–host interactions. These interactions need not be mutualistic, and indeed can be antagonistic. We develop an integrated ecoevolutionary model to explore microbially mediated olfactory communication and a process model that illustrates the various ways that microbial products might contribute to odorants. This novel approach generates testable predictions, including that selection to incorporate microbial products should be a common feature of infochemicals that communicate identity but not those that communicate fitness or quality. Microbes extend an individual's genotype, but also enhance vulnerability to environmental change.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)885-894
    Number of pages10
    JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


    • microbiome
    • holobiont
    • hologenome
    • olfactory communication
    • microbiome–gut–brain axis
    • animal behavior


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