Neural circuits in the olfactory system of arthropods

The neural basis of olfaction is studied from a morphological and evolutionary perspective. We are examining the olfactory systems of flies, moth, locust, ants and different crustacean species. Our key techniques are confocal, neural tracer and as well as electron microscopy (SEM, TEM) to analyze the neural circuitry involved in olfaction in the arthropod brain.

Cellular Networks

The antennal lobe neural circuitry is analyzed using correlative light- and electronmicroscopy to determine the synaptic connectivity of sensory, local and output neurons. Using genetic tools (GAL4/UAS) we identify cells with electron dense markers (DAB, Immunogold) at the ultrastructural level as well as using high resolution confocal microscopy.

Computational Neuroanatomy

In order to generate realistic models of brain structure morphometric measures using digital reconstruction and image registration techniques are applied.


Combining classical and digital tracing methods we are investigating the architecture of the olfactory pathway in various arthropods in search of a hexapod ground pattern forming glomerular maps in several euarthropod groups, as well as adaptations in terrestrial crustaceans in their transition from water to land.


  • Rafael Cantera (Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas, Montevideo, Uruguay)
  • Manuela Rebora (University of Perugia, Italy)
  • Roberto Romani (University of Perugia, Italy)
  • Sandor Nietzsche (Universitätsklinikum Jena, EMZ, Jena)

Project Leader

  Dr. Jürgen Rybak
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1416


Natalia Marquez
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1465

PhD students

  Lydia Gruber
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1453


Julia van Beesel