Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Insects’ sense of smell gives insight into better repellent

Insects’ sense of smell gives insight into better repellent design and drug screening

Skoltech researchers and their colleagues have studied a core element of the insect olfactory system to see how this knowledge might help in both fighting insects and using them to our advantage. The paper was published in the journal Molecular Biology Reports.


Olfaction, or the ability to detect odorous chemical substances, is one of the universal senses shared by all sorts of living organisms. How important it is for an organism’s survival varies across species, and generally the more important it is, the more intricate structures evolve to provide information about smells and odors. In insects, olfaction guides a lot of sexual and social behavior, so their chemosensing arsenal is quite diverse, with hundreds of genes encoding olfactory receptors tuned to specific compounds, or ligands.

“On the one hand, our interaction with the insect world is of great economic importance. Insects can be both our enemies (agricultural pests, vectors of dangerous infections) and friends (pollinators, producers of food substances). And the sense of smell is an important determinant of their behavior. On the other hand, the enormous diversity of insect chemoreceptors can find applications in the development of new scientific approaches, for example, in drug screening. The paradox here is that we still do not have a general picture of the olfaction mechanisms in insects,” Skoltech Professor Konstantin Lukyanov said.

Lukyanov and Skoltech PhD student Elena Sokolinskaya were part of the team that studied the functioning of Orco, a co-receptor that is fundamental to olfaction in insects, in a HEK293 cell line. Since Orco is a highly conserved constant subunit of any receptor of the OR family, meaning it’s very stable and ubiquitous, it is the most versatile target for studying insect olfactory regulation.

“We found that the functional “tuning” of the chemoreceptor, for example, its sensitivity and responsiveness, and maybe even the signal transduction mechanism, depends on the identity of its ligand-binding subunit dramatically. This means that the OR family of receptors is very diverse in its molecular functioning mechanisms,” Lukyanov said.

According to the authors, these findings can be relevant in repellent design and drug screening, although Lukyanov notes that research efforts should be targeted to specific receptors of specific insect species as “it is hardly possible to be guided by the observations and conclusions made only on the Drosophila model.”

“At the moment, we can also say that insect chemoreceptors are potentially applicable in ‘mammalian’ chemogenetics; we are currently testing a wider palette of receptors in the primary cultures of electroexcitable cells,” Lukyanov concluded.

Other organizations involved in this research include the Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry and the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 


Science Media Centre: Understanding DDoS cyber attacks – Expert Reaction

Cyber attacks have hit several New Zealand organisations this month, disrupting their online services. The Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks were the same kind of cyber attack that affected the NZX around this time last year... More>>


Financial Markets Authority: Spike in investment scam complaints since COVID

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) - Te Mana Tātai Hokohoko – is warning New Zealanders to be on the lookout for three unique types of scams that have been on the rise since the start of COVID-19. The warning comes as the FMA responds to a rise in complaints about investment scams and fraud lodged with the regulator in the first half of this year... More>>


Statistics: Strong export growth narrows current account deficit to $3B

The seasonally adjusted current account deficit narrowed to $3.0 billion in the June 2021 quarter, Stats NZ said today. The current account deficit was $2.2 billion narrower than the previous quarter due to an increase in value of goods exports (up $1.4 billion) and services exports (up $1.7 billion... More>>




Statistics: GDP rises in the June 2021 quarter

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 2.8 percent in the June 2021 quarter, following a 1.4 percent increase in the March 2021 quarter, Stats NZ said today. June 2021 quarter GDP was 4.3 percent higher when compared with the December 2019 quarter... More>>


Energy-from-waste: $350 Million Plant To Deliver Renewable Energy Considered

Investigations have begun into the viability of building an Energy-from-Waste plant that will safely convert 350,000 tonnes of waste, that would otherwise be dumped into South Island landfills annually, into renewable electricity... More>>

Olam: Confirms plans for commissioning of NZ dairy plant

OFI, a global leader in natural and sustainable food ingredient solutions, today confirmed plans to develop a new dairy processing facility at Tokoroa. It is now taking expressions of interest from potential farmer suppliers, employees, contractors, and general trade suppliers... More>>