Odor-guided Behavior

My group investigates how odors affect the behavior of animals as different as vinegar flies, sphingid moths, desert ants, and hermit crabs. We try to understand the basic principles of olfaction either in

1. an evolutionary approach

(e.g. can we pinpoint those natural odors that help a fly or a hermit crab to localize their food sources. As both the insect and the crustacean are attracted by rotten banana, do they use the same olfactory cues, or do they have evolved different strategies?)

2. a neurophysiological approach

(e.g. can we predict olfactory attractiveness and subjective similarity of odors based on the chemical structure of compounds, the sensillar responses to these compounds, or the compound-evoked antennal lobe activity?)


3. an ethological approach

(e.g. how do foraging desert ants sense their olfactory surrounding and how do they use this information for navigation?)

For the different questions we have established specific bioassays, ranging from simple trap assays to wind tunnels and an automated high-throughput behavioral paradigm for vinegar flies.



Project Leader

  Dr. Markus Knaden
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1421


  Jaime Martinez-Harms
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1465
  Dr. Christine Mißbach
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1460

Technical Assistants

  Sylke Dietel-Gläßer
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1462

PhD students

  Alexander Haverkamp
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1459
  Roman Huber
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1412
  Mohammed A. Khallaf
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1467
  Tom Retzke
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1453


Jessica Finzel
Phone: +49 (0)3641 57 1428
Lisa Merkel



Sophia Kind

Associated group members

Ibrahim Alali