How do insect odorant receptors cope with anthropogenic change?

Odorant receptors (ORs) are involved in resource discrimination and mate finding in moths. Many moths in diverse Lepidopteran families use similar pheromone components, detected by receptors that in some cases are closely related and in other cases have diverged remarkably but retained functional characteristics. The same holds for receptors involved in bark beetle pheromone communication and host detection. Despite extensive functional characterisation of insect ORs, limited structural data is available. ORs have a complex protein structure, existing as transmembrane proteins that forming heteromeric complexes with conserved co-receptors. This project aims at identifying structural characteristics of moth and bark beetle odorant receptors and to investigate how these receptors may cope with anthropogenic changes in the olfactory landscape of insects. This will involve a range of experimental approaches including in silico modelling of receptor-ligand interactions, mutagenesis, functional characterisation and structural determination with cryo-EM or x-ray crystallography.

Postdoctoral Researcher: Dr Cassie Sims (LU)

Supervision: Dr Christer Löfstedt (LU), Dr Mats Sandgren (SLU)

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