SICB Annual Meeting 2009
January 3-7, 2009
Boston, MA

"PharmEcology Symposium: A pharmacological approach to understanding plant-herbivore interactions"
Organized by: Jennifer S. Forbey

Pharmacology concepts were introduced to ecologists studying plant-herbivore interactions over 30 years ago. However, the core concepts of pharmacology such as the absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion (collectively called ADME), toxicity and pharmacodynamics of plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) and the mechanism of action of PSMs on herbivores has had only a recent and limited life in many plant-herbivore interactions (e.g. mammals and insects). The few pioneering ecologists that have ventured into the extensive pharmacological literature discovered a wealth of technologies, assays, approaches and direction to better define the evolutionary, ecological, physiological and biochemical interactions between plants and herbivores. Despite these advances, ecology has not kept up with pharmacological progress. For example, little is know about the mechanisms of PSM absorption and distribution or the mechanism of action (e.g. target receptor binding) in herbivores. In addition, the application of pharmacogenomics and chemicogenomics in plant-herbivore interactions is in its infancy and has the potential to reveal the genetic variability that influences the co-evolution of plant-herbivore interactions.

The symposium will bring together leaders interested in multi-disciplinary research at the interface of pharmacology and the physiological ecology of plant-herbivore interactions, termed PharmEcology. Scheduled talks and breakout sessions will identify current and novel approaches for collaborative research in three general areas:
1) The biochemical mechanisms herbivores utilize to tolerate plant chemical defenses;
2) The biological activity of plant chemical defenses and how herbivores have exploited this activity; and
3) The genetic diversity associated with these two components.

Sources of Support:
The National Science Foundation, Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) (
Agilent Technologies (


Jennifer Sorensen-Forbey
Boise State University
Biology Department
1910 University Dr.
Boise, ID 83725-1515

List of Speakers and Topics:

Herbivore Offenses

Dr. Jennifer Sorensen-Forbey (Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Boise State University, Boise, ID, USA). Pharmacological principles and approaches for ecologists

Dr. Johanna Fink-Gremmels (Professor, Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Veterinary Faculty of Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands). Genetic links? Comparing metabolizing enzymes and efflux transports in domestic animals

Dr. Erik Sotka (Assistant Professor, Grice Marine Laboratory, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA) The emerging role for pharmacology in understanding marine plant-herbivore interactions

Dr. Kristen Whalen (NSF International Postdoctoral Fellow, University of New South Wales, Australia and University of California - Santa Barbara, USA). Transcriptome profiling in the sea
urchin: understanding allelochemical modes of action and marine herbivore cellular offenses

Biological Activity and Exploitation of Plant Toxins

Dr. Roger Sullivan (Assistant Professor, California State University, Sacramento, CA, and UC Davis Medical School, USA). Evolutionary selection pressures on humans from plant toxins

Dr. Michael A. Huffman (Associate Professor, Field Research Center, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan). Primate self-medication

Dr. Fred Provenza (Professor, Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA). Self-medication in domestic species

Dr. Deniz Tasdemir (Senior Lecturer, Department of Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry, University of London, London, UK). Secondary product isolation-structure elucidation and bioassays

Dr. Alan L. Harvey (Professor and Director, Strathclyde Institute for Drug Research and Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.) Biological screening assays for PSMs

Transformative Directions in PharmEcology

Dr. Denise Dearing (Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA). Pharmacogenomics in herbivores


Dr. William J. Foley (Professor, Department of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia). Chemicogenomics of plants index.htm

Dr. David Raubenheimer (Professor, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand). Nutritional PharmEcology


S6.1 Monday, Jan. 5, 07:40 SORENSEN-FORBEY, J.S.: Pharmacological principles and approaches for ecologists

S6.2 Monday, Jan. 5, 08:10 FINK-GREMMELS, J: Genetic links? Comparing metabolizing enzymes and efflux transporters in domestic animals

S6.3 Monday, Jan. 5, 08:40 SOTKA, Erik E.: The emerging role for pharmacology in understanding marine plant-herbivore interactions

S6.4 Monday, Jan. 5, 09:10 WHALEN, Kristen*; HOFMANN, Gretchen; STEINBERG, Peter: Transcriptome profiling in the sea urchin: understanding allelochemical modes of action and marine herbivore cellular defenses

S6.5 Monday, Jan. 5, 09:40 SULLIVAN, RJ: The evolutionary mechanism of action of neurotoxins: punishment or reward?

S6.6 Monday, Jan. 5, 10:30 HUFFMAN, MA: Primate Self-Medication

S6.7 Monday, Jan. 5, 11:00 PROVENZA, F.D.*; VILLALBA, J.J.: Self-Medication in Domestic Herbivores

S6.8 Monday, Jan. 5, 11:30 TASDEMIR, Deniz: From Secondary Metabolites to Drugs: Rationale, Purification and Biological Screening

S6.9 Monday, Jan. 5, 13:00 HARVEY, A.L.: Bilogical screening assays for plant secondary metabolites

S6.10 Monday, Jan. 5, 13:30 DEARING, M. D.*; MAGNANOU, E.; MALENKE, J.; SKOPEC, M. S.: Functional genomics of mammalian herbivores

S6.11 Monday, Jan. 5, 14:00 FOLEY, William J.*; MORAN, Gavin F.; KESZEI, Andras; KULHEIM, Carsten: Chemicogenomics of plants

S6.12 Monday, Jan. 5, 14:30 RAUBENHEIMER, David: Nutritional PharmEcology