Research Topics of the Department of Entomology

The overall strategy guiding most of the research of the Department is to examine insect systems in which some phenotypic change or divergence has already occurred relatively recently in evolutionary time. The investigation begins by ascertaining the nature of these differences and continues with a genetic analysis by crossing divergent types within or between populations. When specific genes have been identified, their expression patterns and protein products are characterized to determine how different allelic variants cause different phenotypes. Predictions are then made about how natural selective forces should change allele frequencies, and tested by measuring genetic variation and selection in field populations.

A successful application of this strategy requires scientific tools that until recently were only possessed by a few model systems such as Caenorhabditis, Drosophila, and Arabidopsis.  Thus a primary tactic of the Department is to develop an herbivorous Lepidopteran insect as a model system, by a sustained investment in the creation of such tools and their dissemination to a wider community of scientists worldwide. The generalist Helicoverpa armigera has been chosen for this development.

 

The Department is structured into three Research Groups, each focusing on a different technical approach and particular aspect of insect adaptations to chemical stimuli:

Host Plant Adaptation (Dr Heiko Vogel and his Research Group)

Molecular Biology of the Insect Digestive System (Dr. Yannick Pauchet and his Research Group)

Chemical Communication (Dr. Astrid T. Groot and her Research Group)