The 12th of june 2019 we had the first workgroup meeting on  olfactomics at SLU Alnarp, Sweden

Insect olfaction: from mapping sensory responses to application

SLU Alnarp, June 12th

AM: Seminars

09:00 – 09:10

Teun Dekker
SLU, Sweden


09:10 – 09:35

N. Kirk Hillier
Acadia University, Wolfville, Canada

Comparative investigations of blend coding and discovery of novel ligands – fundamentals and applications

Economically-important pest and model insect species dominate studies of insect olfaction, due to their impact on human agriculture, forestry and health.  Using recent advances in our understanding of olfactory function and phylogenetic relationships, we are in a position to make advances in insect management translatable to wide array of species.  In this presentation will use examples of comparative studies on moths, beetles and acarine (ticks and mites) pests species which provide a basis for investigating blend coding and new applications in management.

09:35 – 10:00

Bela Molnár
Plant Protection Institute, Budapest, Hungary

Tiny midges versus mega blends – how gall midge olfaction is shaped by ecology and phylogenetic relationship.

Ephemeral gall midges constitute excellent models for investigating the role of olfaction in host choice, host shift, and speciation. Midges mate near their site of emergence and females migrate in order to locate hosts for oviposition, thus females are expected to be more responsive to olfactory cues emitted by the host compared to males. We explored the correlation between host choice and the function of the peripheral olfactory system in 12 species of gall midges, including species with close phylogenetic relationships that use widely different host plants and more distantly related gall midge species that use similar hosts.


Sebastian Larsson Herrera
SLU, Sweden

From investigating single species to performing en-mass comparative olfactory studies

Olfactory studies using electrophysiology are cumbersome and rarely comparative, when performed in a standardized manner the rate at which data is gathered can be significantly sped up. Such data can form massive databases cutting across taxa, allowing us to identify what are the drivers that shape the sense of smell in insects. Using a few Tephritidae species we found sets of shared volatiles that were detected by all fruit flies, and that is more attractive than fruits. We have also identified how the ecology of fruit flies species can override phylogenetic relation in shaping the sense of smell.




Vincent Jacob
CIRAD, la Reunion

Shared versus orphan olfactory clues in Tephritid fruit flies: which lead the way ?

La Réunion Island houses nine fruit fly species impacting fruit and vegetable production with partial host-range overlapping. On one side, olfactory functions are conserved among Tephritid species due to shared evolutionary history, and on the other side, specific olfactory sensitivities might emerge from specific selection pressure. Which one funnels the best attractants ?
We explored the volatilomes of 28 different fruit species and estimated the genericity of hundreds of volatile compounds among the preferred hosts of each fruit fly species. Besides, we are now performing a comparative study of Tephritid olfactomes. We aim to distinguish kairomones whose sensitivities are shared among Tephritid fruit flies from kairomones detected by one or a few species. Our data set allows to further challenge the hypothesis that the intersection of olfactomes of polyphagous insects matches the intersection of host volatilomes. 


Peter Ockenfels
Syntech, Germany

Techniques and methods for Chemical Ecology Research. From past to present.


Giovanni Galizia
University of Konstanz, Germany

The DoOR to olfaction – tales from collecting data across research groups“

The DoOR database is an open access tool that has collected detailed information about odorant response profiles for several years now. Based on a mathematical algorithm that can integrate data from different labs and recorded with different techniques, it yields a tool for integrating large amounts of data.
Here, I will give a quick review about the back of the scenes, and some fundamental problems. When does the algorithm fail? How can we weight data sets in a transparent way? And what is the effect of impurities in olfactory ligand research?


PM: First olfactomics workgroup meeting

Background: Mass extinction threaten our planet, the origin of which is largely anthropogenic. Our current agricultural production system strongly contributes to this pattern, with an increasing percentage of arable land turned into large scale monoculture production, while marginalizing ‘nature’. This disfavors biodiversity and ecosystem services and favors a adapted few species. Humans further exacerbate this by using pesticides that most strongly impact poorly adapted, often beneficial species. Sustainable innovations to control insect pests are urgently needed. Chemical ecology-based technologies offer great prospects in supporting the transition from harmful insecticide-dominated crop protection to organic agriculture, yet effective lures are being developed at underwhelmingly low rates. In a novel approach, coined olfactomics, we aim to overcome this challenge. It deviates from traditional chemical ecology, which typically researches one-pest-at-a-time, and instead zooms out and constructs comprehensive and comparative cross-species olfactome databases to extract phylogenetic and evolutionary ecological signals that can be translated into lures.

Central question: how to organize a throughput standardized mapping of olfactory responses in model and non-model insect species and provide a user interface to facilitate participation.

  • Accelerating basic and applied science using olfactomics: identification of drivers and constraints. A rich picture exercise
  • Discussion mapping efforts across taxa, fingerprint and megablends
  • Conclusions, how to move forward