Our research on tephritid fruit flies combines research from various regions across the globe (in particular Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Bolivia) and links strongly with our ongoing research efforts on other insect species, including Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila suzukii. Other, more distantly related taxa such as mosquitoes, moths, beetles and hymenoptera are important models for populating our olfactomics efforts (see top menu). In each of these projects we actively seek collaborations to rapidly build consensus databases.

In Ethiopia we have strong collaborations with the Addis Ababa University, particularly with the department of Zoological Sciences. Projects involving GC-EAD, lab tests and field tests, including intervention studies are conducted in collaboration with AAU.

In Tanzania, we collaborate with various groups at the University of Dar es Salaam and Mkwawa University. Of particular mention is our collaboration with Dr. Fikira Kimbokota on fruit flies, among other pest insects. Dr Kimbokota has been working in our laboratory in Sweden for over 1 year and will continue to collaborate with us particularly regarding field research on tephritidae.

In Bolivia, we work in close collaboration with the Universidad Major de San Simon. Ilich Figueroa serves as a bridge, being an exchange PhD student from Bolivia. The research conducted focuses particularly on South American invasive and  native species, and include lab, semifield and field studies, with a particular aim to develop novel accessible intervention techniques for smallholder farmers against fruit fly damage.

Illustration of GC-EAD with a mounted mediterranean fruit fly: Ilich Figueroa

Much of our work involves  screening several biological relevant samples for sensory responses and behavior. We are interested in what makes female insects orient towards a source. By using gas chromatography coupled with electroantennographic detection (GC-EAD) we can create extensive databases over compounds that are ‘smelled’ by insects . Those compounds are a key for manipulating insect decision making. This could for example be how a fruit fly evaluate a odor-plume originating from a  host plant. By manipulating Tephritidae behavior with odors from natural occurring compounds we aim to attract them and in application be used to disrupt a invasion on ripening horticultural produce. We hope that novel lures developed by our joined efforts can have a positive impact on integrated management of this severe pest.

Novel six choice assay, for evaluating behavior in a competitive odor space. Illustration: Ilich Figueroa

To be able to disseminate important information we are currently developing several bioinformatic tools that allows us to translate the wast amount of data in to rational decisions. As a co-development we also have designed a 6 choice arena assay that allows us to competitively screen attractive compounds against each other. This setup is currently used in Bolivia, Ethiopia and Sweden.

As important as understanding  biological relevance of odors is the ability today to map genes. We are currently  mapping olfactory systems in Tephritidae. By doing this we can get a systematic and high resolution map of what is the underlying neuronal paths that constitutes olfaction in these polyphagous pests. In our lab we are currently using transcriptomics, genetic techniques and bioinformatical pipelines to break novel terrain in Tephritidae olfaction research.