- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
So began noted neuroscientist John Hildebrand in his keynote speech heralding the opening of the first-of-its kind international olfaction/taste symposium. Hildebrand is the Honors Professor and Regents Professor at the University of Arizona and the International Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences.
UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal coordinated and co-hosted the Zoom symposium, titled “Insect Olfaction and Taste in 24 Hours Around the Globe.” The free event drew attendees from 66 countries.
The presentations, which began at 9 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), Wednesday, Aug. 11, were uploaded to YouTube. All ten videos from the symposium are now online:
- Video One is at https://youtu.be/QlyNCZtSvtY
- Video Two is at https://youtu.be/-aO8-1yfQRI
- Video Three is at https://youtu.be/2SsQvYlXKXY
- Video Four is at https://youtu.be/hmmEac7MliI
- Video Five is at https://youtu.be/60D99Z6nJI8
- Video Six is at https://youtu.be/rZ7i4d7VogQ
- Video Seven is at https://youtu.be/19ukK_R7eKE
- Video Eight is at youtu.be/eROTKZFhu9w
- Video Nine is at https://youtu.be/uVrESHyAyvU
- Video Ten is at https://youtu.be/-XUuKGYbByc
"As an undergraduate student, I started in research working on bacteria in the laboratory of the biochemist John Law," he related. "At that time he was beginning to redirect his research to problems in insect biochemistry and among other projects; he was collaborating with the biologist E. O. Wilson in studies of ant pheromones. The term pheromone had been invented only three years earlier in 1959 in Germany by Peter Carlson and Martin Luther, and in that same year another German out of Bhutan and his group had reported the first chemical identification of an insect pheromone."
That was the silk moth pheromone, Bombykol, released by the female silkworm moth (Bombyx mori) to attract mates.
The rest, they say, is history. Insect history.
The symposium included 15 invited (keynote) and 36 contribution presentations,” said Leal, a UC Davis distinguished professor with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former chair of the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology). Leal hosted the PDT segment. Wynand van der Goes van Naters of Cardiff University, UK, hosted the British Summer Time (BST) segment; and Coral Warr of La Trobe University, Australia hosted the Australia Eastern Standard Time (AEST) segment.
The presentations covered a wide variety of insects, including three species of mosquitoes (Culex, Aedes and Anopheles); honey bee (Apis mellifera); fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila sechellia, and Drosophila suzukii); sand flies (the blood-sucking dipteran flies); cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera); housefly (Musca domestica); cabbage butterfly (Pieris rapae); and the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana).
- Total users (including those logging in periodically): 2,990
- 71 percent of the attendees surveyed said they were "very satisfied" with the symposium, and 12 percent "satisfied."
- 54 percent of the surveyed attendees had never attended a conference on chemosensation.
"One of the highlights of the symposium was the participation of students and postdocs who showcased their work and announced at the end, that they will be looking for a position," Leal said. "Other professors, at the end of their talks, advertised vacancies in their lab. I had asked all presenters to share some new data. In fact, many presenters showed unpublished data, while others showed data that they had already submitted to BioRxiv, a non-peer reviewed pre-print server."
At the closing, Leal selected two persons to give their impressions of the symposium:
- See opinion by Greg Pask, an assistant professor of biology at Middlebury College, Vermont: https://twitter.com/wsleal2014/status/1427040189147275271.
- See comments by Nathalia Brito, who just completed her Ph.D. at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro: https://twitter.com/wsleal2014/status/1427431406527934490
- "I used to work in the field of insect taste and olfaction and have attended a couple of ESITO meetings (European Symposium for Insect Taste and Olfaction) when I was a grad student and in early days as a postdoc. This was a wonderful opportunity to see that latest advances in the field and see many of the people whom I had met in person talk and some new people."
- "Thank you to the organizers for coordinating such an informative and well run virtual event."
- "Great collegial and convivial atmosphere. Really good idea to have a commentary on the lectures."
- "I am working on bark beetle olfaction, so I am available in the future with this topic. Thank you."
- "I learnt a lot from different groups especially disease vectors. It was a privilege to listen to some of the big names in this area. Looking forward to a future meeting."
- "I would like say the heartiest thanks to everyone who worked on this webinar. I am doing research for more than 10 years and I never experienced such a wonderful scientific event. What you have done can not be appreciated by words."
- "Undoubtedly, this is the best symposium I have ever attended to. I was able to join with almost every presentation. As an early-career researcher in chemical ecology, this inspired me a lot. Hope to present in this meeting and getting to know great scientists in the future. Hats off to the organisers. Thank you."
- "Thank you for organizing! I only wish there were more detailed times for each presentation so I could be sure to tune in for specific talks, but this is a great concept!"
The detailed schedule of times and speakers was purposely not announced in advance "in order to keep attendance high when students, postdocs, and early-career scholars presented," Leal said, adding "I enjoyed listening to the student/early-career researchers talks. All of them were very interesting and well executed."
For more information and updates, follow Walter Leal on Twitter at @wsleal2014 or access his biochemistry channel where all the videos will be posted. Folks can also turn on YouTube and Chrome browser notifications to receive alerts.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
So wrote scientists Karen Menuz and Pratyajit Mohapatra in research titled "Molecular Profiling of the Drosophila Antenna Reveals Conserved Genes Underlying Olfaction in Insects," published last fall in the journal G-3 (Genes, Genomics, Genetics). "Currently, little is known about the molecules supporting odor signaling beyond the odor receptors themselves."
The research drew widespread interest. Now Menuz, an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, will head to the University of California, Davis, next week to present a seminar to the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Menuz will speak on "Molecular Basis of Insect Olfaction" at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 8 in 122 Briggs Hall. Host is chemical ecologist Walter Leal, distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a former chair of the entomology department.
Her abstract: "Development of new insect control measures will require the discovery of novel molecular targets that can alter their olfactory capabilities. The past two decades have witnessed an explosion of research on the two insect odor receptor families, but nearly all odor receptors are poorly conserved. Therefore, my research focuses on molecules that are likely to play critical roles in olfaction in distantly related insect species. Recently, we have found that Amt/Rh ammonia transporters are essential for the sensing of ammonia, an odor released by humans and attractive to insect vectors of disease and other insects. These transporters are highly conserved and are expressed in the antennal transcriptomes of all insect species examined. To identify additional genes that may contribute to olfaction in the periphery, we carried out a computational screen in Drosophila to reveal genes whose expression in the antenna is greatly enriched compared to other tissues. Importantly, we found that most orthologs of the olfaction-candidate genes are expressed in the antennae of other species, including mosquitoes, ants, bees, and beetles. These candidates will provide a foundation for future studies investigating conserved mechanisms of odor signaling."
Menuz holds a bachelor's degree in genetics, cellular and developmental biology and a bachelor's degree in biophysical chemistry, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College (1999), Hanover, N.H. She received her doctorate in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco, in 2007, working with advisor Roger Nicoll. Her thesis:"In Vivo Regulation of AMPA receptors by Their TARP Auxiliary Subunits."
Community ecologist Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, is coordinating the department's seminars. All seminars begin at 4:10 p.m. on Wednesday in 122 Briggs Hall.
Other seminar speakers scheduled for the month of January include:
Wednesday, Jan. 15
Corrie Moreau, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Topic: "Piecing Together the Puzzle to Understand the Evolution of the Ants"
Host: Marshall McMunn, graduate student
Wednesday, Jan. 22
Sebastian Eves-van den Akker, University of Cambridge, UK
Topic: Nematology (to be announced)
Host: Shahid Siddique, assistant professor
Wednesday, Jan. 29
Elizabeth Crone, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.
Topic: Plant-insect interactions (to be announced)
Hosts: Neal Williams, professor; Rachel Vannette, assistant professor