The first edition of this treatise, entitled Comprehensive Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, and Pharmacology and edited by Gerald A. Kerkut (see p. ix for the Dedication to Prof. Kerkut) and Lawrence I. Gilbert, was published in 1985. The preliminary meetings regarding that 13-volume series began in 1980 and it was agreed that there would be 12 volumes "that would provide an up-to-date summary and orientation on the physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, behavior, and control of insects that would be of value to research workers, teachers, and students.'' It was felt that the volumes would provide a classical background to the literature, include all the critical basic material, and then emphasize the literature from 1950 to the present day (1984). By mid-1981 most of the chapters were assigned to authors and the project was underway. It was agreed upon that there would be a final Volume 13, an Index volume, that combined the subject, species, and author indexes for all 12 volumes so that all material in those volumes could be located easily. This was a monumental undertaking and the 13 volumes finally appeared in 1985. It received plaudits from reviewers and from researchers around the world. One of us (LG.) was approached by Carrol Williams, an internationally renowned insect physiologist, at an International Congress of Entomology following the publication of the first edition, and Professor Williams noted that he had a choice between purchasing the 13-volume set for his laboratory and buying a new centrifuge. He then stated that he chose the 13-volume series and had never regretted it for a moment. There were more than 50 000 references to the literature in the first edition and more than 10 000 species of insects were referred to, and all of this information was readily available through the thirteenth volume (index). It is of interest that volumes of that original series are still being purchased some 19 years after this series was published.

Over the past 5-6 years, one of us (LG.) was approached many times by colleagues around the world asking when a second edition of this series would be available. There was an obvious need because of the dramatic explosion of knowledge in insect science due to the utilization of molecular biological paradigms and techniques culminating in the elucidation of the Drosophila genome (fly database), the Anopholes genome, and of course this explosion continues. The use of this technology was really only beginning when the first series was developed and in 2000, 15 years after the publication of the first edition, we and Elsevier agreed that a new edition was necessary. This would be a series in which each chapter would begin by devoting a few pages summarizing the work in a particular research area up to the publication of the first series (1984-1985), and the remainder of the chapter would be a review of the literature from 1985 to 2003. It was agreed upon that each chapter would make full use of data arising from the utilization of molecular technologies if such data were applicable to that particular chapter subject. We chose to fulfill that premise in six volumes plus an index volume and that both a printed version and an electronic version would be available. As is evident, the title of the series has been changed, both to reflect the emphasis on molecular approaches and to alleviate the use of the obviously cumbersome title Comprehensive Insect Physiology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Molecular Biology, which would have to be typed every time a researcher refers to a chapter in the series. We do not pretend, however, that this is a truly comprehensive treatise, since critical areas of research, e.g., ecology, evolutionary biology, and behavior, have not been included, but we have chosen to retain the use of the word "Comprehensive" for continuity with the first series.

The reader will note that the number of chapters in the six volumes is certainly well below the number of chapters in the original 12 volumes. The editors made very subjective decisions based on their own experience and knowledge regarding those areas where the most progress had been made over the past 18 years and omitted areas that have not grown significantly. Surely, there are areas of omission that many readers will feel were due to arbitrary decisions or lack of knowledge of the editors. That is bound to be the case although we spent a great deal of time deciding which chapters should be included, but there is little doubt that personal research bias played a role in those decisions. We are certainly confident that these volumes will be of great value to the research community, including postdoctoral investigators and graduate students. The new publishing technology will allow upgrades by the publisher every several years for those areas of research in which significant breakthroughs occur. This, of course, will only occur in the electronic format of the series and it is hoped that at least for the first few upgrades the original authors will take part.

Lawrence I. Gilbert Kostas Iatrou Sarjeet Gill

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