Date: May 03, 2018. 12:00
Location: CCU Seminar Room
Title: Olfactory evolution in drosophilids: from receptors to behaviours.
Affiliation: University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
My group is interested in understanding the structure, function and evolution of neural circuits. We exploit the olfactory system of Drosophila melanogaster as a model, which is well-described, experimentally accessible and dynamically evolving. Furthermore, genomic and growing genetic access to closely related, but ecologically diverse, drosophilids provides an unparalleled foundation for comparative studies of their olfactory circuits. I will present our recent work on the evolution of the olfactory pathways of Drosophila sechellia, an island endemic that displays extreme specialisation for the Morinda citrifolia “noni” fruit as a food source and breeding site. We have started to define the molecular basis by which D. sechellia’s olfactory receptors are re-tuned to the odours of its host and – through development of novel genetic tools in this species – how these different sensory pathways contribute to host-seeking behaviours.