Our broad interests are twofold: We are interested in identifying plant- and animal-derived volatile organic compounds that act as ligands; & What molecular and cellular elements are involved in detection and discrimination of these ligands that define the olfactory landscape insects are surrounded with.
We employ various analytical methods to isolate and identify volatile chemicals ligands. In parallel we use genetic manipulations, electrophysiological recordings and quantitative behavioral measurements to study the evolution and interplay of chemicals and olfactory receptors.
Some of the questions we are studying are:
How the rich and diverse chemical landscape is coded by a limited number of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs)? And how some of the key odorants elicit robust olfactory behaviors, such as host and mate location?
How selective forces shape the repertoire and function of olfactory receptors (ORs) in closely related, and especially sympatrically evolving insect species?
How the developmental and experience-dependent plasticity in nervous systems is manifested at the cellular and molecular level?
How is repulsion mediated in insects?