Reception & Transduction

Insect Molecular Neurophysiology of Olfaction

Olfactory receptors play an important role in adaptation of a species to ecological niches. Insect olfactory receptors are different in two aspects from vertebrate and other invertebrate olfactory receptors which belong to the family of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). First, they form dimers composed of one odour-specific protein and one ubiquitous protein forming an ion channel. Second, compared with classical GPCRs the topology of the insect receptor proteins appears to be inverted.

We investigate by which mechanism Drosophila olfactory receptors transduce an odorant signal into an electrical signal and how this signal is processed and amplified within the compartments of the olfactory sensory neurons.

Our work is focused to figure out how an adaptation to a special environment is organized at the level of olfactory receptors and on the level of inter-neuronal communication. We thus perform electrophysiological experiments in native cells (in situ and in isolated form) as well as in heterologous expression systems to investigate biophysical properties of olfactory receptors and downstream signalling systems. These approaches are complemented by optical imaging and pharmacological investigations of signalling components.



Project Leader

  PD Dr. Dieter Wicher
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1415

PhD students

Lorena Halty
  Fabio Miazzi
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1460