Posts Tagged: UC Riverside
Molecular neurobiologist Anupama Dahanukar, assistant professor at UC Riverside, will speak on "Taste Receptors and Feeding Preferences in Insects" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives.
UC Davis assistant professor Joanna Chiu, who studies the molecular genetics of animal behavior, will host the seminar, which is scheduled to be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
The seminar will focus on the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, exciting research under way in the Dahanukar lab.
"We are interested in the molecular neurobiology of feeding behavior," Dahanukar says. "Insects use highly diverse groups of gustatory receptors (Grs) to taste the chemical world and determine the palatability of potential food sources. In Drosophila melanogaster, the 68 receptors of this family are expressed in complex combinatorial patterns in taste neurons. In previous studies we and others identified a highly conserved clade of eight Gr genes that encode sugar receptors. Although some of these have been linked to detection of sweet compounds by genetic analysis, their precise functions are still poorly understood. Little is also known about how stimuli that are typically not rich in sugars trigger highly attractive gustatory responses in Drosophila."
"Using genetic and evolutionary analysis, we recently found that Gr64e, a receptor in this clade, plays an essential role in feeding preference for beer and other yeast fermentation products. We identified that Gr64e is necessary for neuronal and behavioral responses to an abundant component of yeast and fermentation products, glycerol. Moreover, Drosophila species that carry a polymorphism disrupting Gr64e function have reduced behavioral preference for beer, suggesting that Gr64e may contribute to specific evolutionary variations in appetitive selectivity. Ectopic expression of the Gr64e receptor in an olfactory neuron is sufficient to confer glycerol sensitivity. We have extended this ectopic expression system to identify that each sweet Gr protein serves as a determinant for recognition of unique but overlapping subsets of sweet tastants."
"We have also obtained functional expression of a taste receptor from the mosquito Anopheles gambiae in Drosophila. We are now poised to further investigate taste detection and Gr function in Drosophila and other insects."
A noted scientist, Dahanukar received a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2012; the Whitehall Foundation Award in 2011; and the 2000 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. She was awarded a Government of India National Merit Scholarship in 1990.
Dahanukar holds a bachelor of science degree in life sciences from Bombay University, India; a master's degree in environmental management from Duke University, Durham, N.C.; and a doctorate in genetics in 1999 from Duke University, where she studied patterning along the anterior-posterior axis in Drosophila embryos. In 1999, she joined the laboratory of John Carlson at Yale University to pursue post-doctoral training in the molecular neurobiology of insect chemosensory systems. Dahanukar joined the faculty of the UC Riverside Department of Entomology in 2009.
Molecular neurobiologist Anupama Dahanukar of UC Riverside working with Drosophila cultures with junior specialist, Adriana Medina.
Okay, what are the answers?In a prior blog, we listed several questions asked at the Linnaean Games, a college-bowl type of quiz that’s a traditional part of the Entomological Society of America’s annual meeting. You have to know insect facts and figures and ESA history to win.
It's a fun game that draws entomologists and would-be entomologists from throughout the world. Professor Tom Turpin of Purdue, decked out in a tuxedo and a monarch butterfly bowtie, moderates the event and provides more humor than some of the late-night TV shows. This year's ESA meeting, the 56th annual, took place Nov. 16-19 in Reno.Ready for the questions and answers?
Question: U.S. states have an official state insect. List three states that do not have one.
Answer: Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. Source: See http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/Lists/state_insects.html
Question: What is the purpose of the process in folklore known as “Telling the Bees?”
Answer: To keep honey bees from leaving the hive when a bee keeper had died.
Question: Approximately how many beetle species have been described to date? Choices:
Answer: 350,000 (c)
Answer: Gil GrissomQuestion: Imagine that you have wandered through an area where an egg mass of deer ticks has just hatched, and you find yourself in intimate association the dozens of tick larvae. What is your risk of getting Lyme disease?
Answer: None. This would be their first blood meal, and Lyme disease is not transovarially transmitted.The University of California, Riverside team won the competition, edging North Carolina State University. The UC Riverside team included Jennifer Henke, Jason Mottern, Casey Butler and Rebeccah Waterworth.
UC Davis, our home team (Go Aggies!), also competed. Hillary Thomas, Andrew Pederson, Dominic Reisig and Michael Branstetter gave it the ol' Aggie try but didn’t quite make the finals. Next year! Their coach, Larry Godfrey, was on a University of Kentucky championship team.What year was that? "Are you trying to make me feel really old?" Godfrey quipped. "Well, it was 1983 at the second annual Linnaean Games (second annual in the North Central Branch of ESA where it started). It was a few years before the other branches started this competition and several years before they did it at the national meeting. Tom Turpin, who started this with another professor at Purdue (Rich Edwards) was my major professor for my M.S."
(Godfrey received his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Purdue and his doctorate at the University of Kentucky.)Ready for more questions?
Question: Name three insects of the five that are athletic team mascots at universities in the United States.
Answer: Bees, Black Flies, Hornets, Wasps, Yellowjackets
Question: What well known American poet wrote a poem entitled “The Bird to the Bees” that began with the lines “There is obviously a complete lack of understanding between the bee/ And me?"
Answer: Ogden Nash
In future columns, we'll take a look at some of the other questions and answers.
Meanwhile, check out the Smithsonian Magazine article on the University of Maryland team at the Linnaean Games. The article mentions that the students crammed for the Linnaean Games by poring over "The Insects," written by UC Davis entomology professors Penny Gullan and Peter Cranston.
Pondering a Question
UC Davis Team