Main Focus

Phd Thesis started in 2018
Non-canonical sensory biology of antennal cells in insect olfaction
Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Faculty of Biological Sciences
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Stefan Heinemann, Dr. Sofia Lavista Llanos, Prof. Dr. Bill S. Hansson, PD Dr. Dieter Wicher

Research focus

I'm interested in the molecular cell biology of Drosophila antennal cells, especially of those found in the third segment (funiculus) responsible for insect olfaction.
Two major categories of cells reside there:

  • olfactory sensory neurons, responsible for detecting odorants and relaying the information to the antennal lobe in the brain, and
  • the largely unexplored majority, supporting cells, which are proposed to have important, conserved functions in various aspects of odor detection.

Methods and goals

I perform single-nucleus RNA sequencing of antennal cells, immunohistochemistry, sensillum dye backfilling and live cation imaging to better understand which lesser-unexplored mechanisms are involved in odor transduction, such as how supporting cells influence odor responsiveness and how adjacent cells interconnect and communicate to achieve robust odor detection.

Curriculum Vitae

Previous research

    • 2015-2016 Cytoskeleton dynamics
      (Akhmanova lab, Dept. Cell Biology, UU)
      Research on the role of microtubules and MTOC involvement in sprouting angiogenesis (blood vessel formation) in 3D using gel-embedded endothelial spheroids.
    • 2014-2015 STARR-seq
      (Laboratory of Translational Immunology, UMC)
      Development of massively parallel genome-wide DNA regulatory region screen for mammalian genomes (STARR-seq). Using this novel high-throughput whole-genome assay, we could identity and quantify the activity of DNA regulatory elements (e.g. enhancers) that play critical roles in cell type specification and disease pathogenesis.
    • 2013 Fungal physiology
      (Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute)
      Research on sugar-releasing capacity in progeny of thermophilic fungi selected for growth on complex substrates. By profiling growth on various types of media, differences in CAZyme secretion could be obtained for improved (lignocellulosic, or second-gen) biofuel production.
    • 2013 Lab rotations
      • Biomolecular docking simulation, modeling of complexes; work with HADDOCK molecular modeling software
        PI: Prof. Alexandre Bonvin, PhD (Computational Structural Biology, Faculty of Science, UU)
      • Control of growth factor signaling & therapeutic use of nanobodies; EGFR internalization into endosomes/multivesicular bodies, nanobodies
        PI: Paul van Bergen en Henegouwen (Molecular Oncology, Faculty of Science, UU)

    • Functional interaction between Drosophila olfactory sensory neurons and their support cells.
      Prelic et al. (2021) Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. DOI:
    • Stem Cells are the Principal Intestinal Epithelial Responders to Bacterial Antigens.
      Meddens et al. (2019). Cell Stem Cell. DOI:
    • Epigenetic regulation of immune tolerance in intestinal epithelium.
      Mokry M, Prelic S, Hilvering CRE, Nieuwenhuis EES. (2014). O-06. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis.
    • Physiological roles of abundant extracellular chaperones.
      Prelic S. (2016). Thesis. (Cellular Protein Chemistry, Rudiger lab, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University)


    • PhD 2018-
      Dept. Evolutionary Neuroethology, Drosophila Neurogenetics and Reception & Transduction group.
      "Molecular profiling of Drosophila olfactory sensory neurons."
      Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology. Jena, DE.
    • MSc 2013-2016
      Molecular & Cellular Life Sciences.
      Utrecht University, Faculty of Science. Utrecht, NL.
    • BSc 2010-2013
      Life Sciences major (Molecular cell biology, biotechnology, developmental biology, cognitive neuroscience).
      University College Utrecht, NL.

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