Biological function of odorant binding proteins, their relation to odorant receptors and the post-metamorphic plasticity of the central olfactory pathway
The red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum with the possibility of transgenic approaches such as directed gene expression, powerful reverse genetics based on systemic RNAinterference, the recently published full genome sequence, and its longevity offers a great system to address olfaction from the odour recognition and discrimination at the periphery to the analysis of the plasticity of the central olfactory pathway. In this project we combine transgenetic, reverse genetic, electrophysiological, chemical ecological, neurobiochemical and neuroanatomical approaches to study the correlation of odorants to odorant binding proteins (OBP) to odorant receptors (OR). The focus of the project will lay on the biological function of OBPs which is still largely unknown, despite their necessity for olfaction. Especially the interaction of OBPs with ORs will be of key interest. Moreover, the established tools will also be applied to study postmetamorphic plasticity of the central olfactory pathway including the first central odour processing centers, the antennal lobes, and higher processing centers, the mushroom bodies.