Research Field: Biological sciences › Biology
Researcher Profile: First Stage Researcher (R1)
Application Deadline: 15/10/2021 18:00 - Europe/Brussels
Location: France › Versailles
Type Of Contract: Temporary
Job Status: Full-time
Hours Per Week: 35
Offer Starting Date: 01/01/2022
PheRousal: how pheromones trigger sexual arousal
Context : 30% crop damage is caused by insect pests, whose reproduction
relies on airborne sex-pheromones. After pheromone detection by the insect's
nose (antenna), how does the motivation for sex build up in the male bug's
brain – remains completely unknown! In the field, the naturally occurring
sex-pheromones are weaponized to disrupt insect mating – the success of this
biocontrol strategy crucially relies on our understanding of the link between
pheromone-perception and sex-drive! Objective & Methodology: Our central
hypothesis is that sex-pheromones incite a persistent change in activity of
the brain's arousal centers, i.e., the effect of pheromone exposure, extends
beyond the canonical olfactory system.
The student will address this hypothesis in the model insect Drosophila, by
analysing the influence of pheromonal odors on the arousal-controlling neurons
of the brain, using the following tools: live imaging of neural activity,
quantitative behavioural analyses, genetics, and circuit tracing with electron
and photonic microscopy.
Workflow : Preliminary results from calcium-imaging experiments in
Drosophila hinted at information flow from second-order olfactory neurons
(PNs: projection neurons) to the arousal neurons in the brain! -(1) The
student will cross-examine the anatomical and physiological connectivity
between pheromone-processing and arousal neurons. -(2) The student will
analyze the behavioral effect of optogenetic stimulation of pheromone-sensing
olfactory neurons on the state of arousal. Together, these two axes will
reveal, how pheromonal odors trigger sexual arousal.
Student profile : Interest to work at the interface of neuroscience,
genetics, and chemical ecology. The student needs to be a fast learner; be
autonomous, self-driven, and resourceful.
Reference : Pheromones mediating copulation and attraction in Drosophila.
Dweck et al., PNAS, 2015. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1504527112.
About the NeO team's research : A central goal of our team is to
understand the mechanisms involved in the translation of physiological
pheromone response into behavioural outputs adapted to the environment. We aim
to use the sex-pheromones of moths and Drosophila to decipher how sensory
information is shared across dedicated neural circuits to organise brain-wide
coordinated changes in behavioural drives.
Societal impact : The work is poised to harness arousal-disrupting
manipulations to suppress pheromone-guided mate search behaviour of pest
insects. Secondly, it will pave the way to use scent – i.e., pheromonal odours
– to force pest insects to be behaviourally active at inopportune times of the
Interest to work at the interface of neuroscience, genetics and chemical
ecology. The student needs to be a fast learner; be autonomous, self-driven
and resourceful. Prior training in molecular neurobiology or circuit
neuroscience would be an asset, but not a requirement per se.
Organisation Type: Public Research Institution
Website: https:// www. inrae.fr
Postal Code: 78026