In the battle against insect pests, new research indicates that it may all come down to the sense of smell. A group of Rockefeller University scientists who had previously identified a key gene essential for the sense of smell in fruit flies now shows that this genes function appears to be evolutionarily conserved across very different insect species.
Research by Leslie Vosshalls laboratory had previously shown that of 62 odorant-receptor proteins expressed by fruit flies, 61 are exclusively expressed in non-overlapping sub-populations of neurons, indicating that these proteins participate in sensing particular types of odors. However, one odorant receptor protein, Or83b, is found in almost all olfactory neurons and serves a general function in detecting odors. When the gene for Or83b is deleted, the flies cant smell.
In the new study, Vosshall, in collaboration with researchers from Sentigen Biosciences, showed that the function of Or83b is preserved in different insects. Although many odorant-receptor proteins appear to be species specific, there is a high degree of evolutionary conservation of the Or83b coding sequence among the fruit fly, the medfly (a citrus pest), the corn earworm moth (which damages corn and tobacco), and Anopheles gambiae, the malaria mosquito. When the medfly, moth, and mosquito versions (or "orthologues") of Or83b were expressed in fruit flies that were missing their own version of the gene, the flies sense of smell was restored, arguing not only that the genes sequence has been conserved over 250 million years of evolution but that the genes function in olfaction has also been conserved. Future designs of pesticides and disease-controlling insect repellents may be able to utilize this commonality to "blind" the insects to the smell of their prey.
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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