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 transformed within the antennal lobe, the first central unit of olfactory information processing.

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 as well as in heterologous expression systems to investigate biophysical properties of olfactory receptors and ion channels. These approaches are complemented by optical imaging and molecular biology techniques such as calcium imaging and single cell PCR.



Project Leader

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

Technical Assistants

  Sabine Kaltofen
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1462

PhD students

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


Lorena Halty