From Insect to Mammal: Complications of the Bioassay

  • Robert J. O’Connell


The bioassay is a test procedure which endeavors to use the occurrence of a unique behavioral or physiological response to evaluate the various steps involved in the chemical fractionation, isolation, and identification of the active compounds which occur in an animal’s chemical communication system. It is usually assumed that the animal which normally perceives the chemical signal under investigation is best suited to act as the biological detector for the presence of active compounds. Therefore, the central element in the bioassay is the experimental animal with its range of sensory capabilities and its behavioral and physiological repetoire. Accordingly, the typical bioassay represents a coalition between natural product chemistry, sensory physiology, and ethology. Each of these disciplines has its own historical perspective, theoretical expectation, armament of technique and experimental strategy. Consequently, it is easy to appreciate how it is that complications should arise from time to time in the design and execution of a suitable bioassay. Since the intricacies of natural product chemistry have already been thoroughly evaluated, I shall concentrate on the complications which arise in the interaction between sensory physiology and ethology.


Mongolian Gerbil Dimethyl Disulfide Pheromone Gland Copulatory Attempt Natural Product Chemistry 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. O’Connell
    • 1
  1. 1.The Rockefeller UniversityNew YorkUSA

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