About the molecular fundations of olfaction: Is coding combinatorial or multidimensional?

About the molecular fundations of olfaction: Is coding combinatorial or multidimensional?

Abstract Odors consist of temporally and spatially complex mixtures of many odorants. But: how many, and which odors do really exist? And where are the limitations of the olfactory system? Recently, we have shown that minute contaminations (of 0.000006 impurity!) can entirely explain an odorant receptor response in a particular situation – and we know that this is not the limit. These findings have a major impact on our understanding of the logic of olfactory code: how broad are odorant receptor responses really? How many different receptor types need to respond to an odorant for the brain to be able in its identification? And: is the diversity of odors that we experience a result of the many possible mixtures, or of the many possible chemicals – or both? In order to answer these questions, we need to know the exact and clean odorant responses of olfactory receptor. We have developed a technology to do so, by combining molecular biology, chemical in-line purification, calcium imaging, robotic experimental automation and large-scale data analysis using transgenic Drosophila melanogaster. This project will employ techniques for neurophysiology, chemical purification, optical imaging and large-scale data analysis and computer modeling in multidimensional spaces. You will bring expertise in at least one of these areas, and learn about all the others. You will combine physiological experiments, calcium imaging, chemical purification, computer simulations and analysis.

We welcome candidates from a wide range of backgrounds (biology, engineering science, physics, chemistry, computer science), but it is essential that candidates are motivated to understand biological phenomena. Candidates should hold a Master’s degree or an equivalent qualification. The research will be undertaken in the department of Neurobiology, University of Konstanz.

The University of Konstanz is an equal opportunity employer that is increasing the number of women in research and teaching. As family-friendly institution, it is committed to further the compatibility of work and family life and prefer disabled applicants when qualification is equal. Interested candidates should apply online via the IMPRS application website. For further information about the project contact: Giovanni Galizia, galizia@uni.kn

Keywords olfactory coding, honeybees, calcium imaging, large data analysis, animal behaviour

Main advisor Giovanni Galizia, University of Konstanz

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