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Article Dans Une Revue ACS Central Science Année : 2020

How Adsorption of Pheromones on Aerosols Controls Their Transport


We propose a general transport theory for pheromone molecules in an atmosphere containing aerosols. Many pheromones are hydrophobic molecules containing polar groups. They are low volatile and have some properties similar to those of hydrotropes. They therefore form a nonsoluble film at the water–air interface of aerosols. The fate of a small pheromone puff in air is computed through reaction-diffusion equations. Partitioning of pheromones between the gas and the aerosol surface over time is studied for various climate conditions (available aerosol surface) and adsorption affinities (energy of adsorption). We show that, for adsorption energy above 30 kBT per molecule, transport of pheromones on aerosols dominates over molecular transport typically 10 s after pheromone emission, even when few adsorbing aerosols are present. This new communication path for airborne chemicals leads to distinctive features including enhanced signal sensibility and increased persistence of pheromone concentration in the air due to slow diffusion of aerosols. Each aerosol droplet has the ability to adsorb thousands of pheromones to the surface, keeping a “history” of the atmospheric content between emission and reception. This new mechanism of pheromone transport leads to dramatic consequences on insect sensing revisiting the way we figure the capture of chemical signals.
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hal-02924943 , version 1 (25-05-2021)



Ludovic Jami, Thomas Zemb, Jérôme Casas, Jean-François Dufrêche. How Adsorption of Pheromones on Aerosols Controls Their Transport. ACS Central Science, 2020, 6 (9), pp.1628-1638. ⟨10.1021/acscentsci.0c00892⟩. ⟨hal-02924943⟩
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