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My major field of interest is the olfactory sense of Lepidoptera, due to it’s high specifically, sensitively as well as the extraordinarily complex chemosensory related behaviour. For my work I am focusing on the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta, because of it's importance in an ecological context, especially regarding the interaction with hostplants. As a classical olfactory model organism, Manduca is well studied concerning its complex natural behavior, central olfactory functions and neurophysiology of the periphery, but the molecular background is not well characterized. The recently published antennal transcriptome data were the basis to identify members of the main olfactory gene families including fragments of olfactory receptors (ORs). ORs interact specifically with volatile odor molecules and determine the ligand specificity of distinct neurons. Therefore knowledge of the function of these proteins will allow us to connect physiology and behaviour to each OR. For this approach I am using an in vivo heterologous expression system in Drosophila melanogaster to identify ligand profiles of each Manduca sexta olfactory receptor electrophysiologically.
last updated on 2014-04-23