Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Research Interests

Insect olfaction

Olfaction enables animals to continuously detect volatile chemical signals in their environment. In many insect species, the detection of odorants that originate e.g. from food sources, oviposition sites, conspecifics or predators by the olfactory system provides essential information and controls specific behaviors.

My research interest is focused on the molecular and cellular processes underlying the sensitive and selective detection of pheromone signals in pest insects (moths and locusts) as well as the recognition of host odors in disease-transmitting mosquitoes (malaria mosquito). Current work in my group is aimed at (i) the identification of the proteins being involved (including receptors, odorant binding proteins, SNMPs), (ii) determining the topography of their expression in the olfactory system and (iii) scrutinizing the specific contribution of each protein to the detection process and how the different molecular elements functionally interplay.

Our research is primarily directed towards a detailed understanding of the molecular basis and functional principles underlying the detection of behaviorally relevant odorants and pheromones in insects. However, the results may also lead to molecular targets that can be used to block the detection of chemical signals essential for survival. In a perspective view, this may provide knowledge for the development of alternative strategies to control insect species that are severe pests or disease vectors.