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Martin N. Andersson

Researcher | Docent

What I work with

I have a broad general interest in Ecology, but my specialty lies within the field of Insect Chemical Ecology and Olfaction. Mainly using a variety of model and non-model insect species, my past and present research projects range from genetic/molecular studies at the level of the olfactory receptor gene and protein, through electrophysiological studies deciphering peripheral odour-coding mechanisms, to pheromone identification and behavioural studies in the field.

In 2011 I started my Postdoc employment, funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR), in the Pheromone group at Lund University with Christer Löfstedt as host. In this project I have identified the chemosensory gene families of the Hessian fly and analysed the expression levels of these genes in various tissues of males and females. Currently, I use heterologous cell assays (Xenopus oocytes and HEK293 cells in collaboration with R. Newcomb) to characterize the response profiles of the odorant receptors, primarily targeting the candidate pheromone receptors. In addition, I aim to characterize the pheromone biosynthetic pathway and enzymes of the Hessian fly.

Another recent research endeavour has been to understand the adaptive value of the strict “co-localization” of olfactory neurons in sensilla that is present in most insect species. In this project, I have taken advantage of the well-characterized olfactory system of the spruce bark beetle and used a combination of electrophysiological (SSR) studies in the lab and behavioural studies in the field to show that co-localization of olfactory neurons allows for cross-talk (signal modulation) between neurons in the periphery as well as improved odour source discrimination in the field.

I am also involved in two other electrophysiological projects, in which I study the responses of single olfactory sensory neurons to host plant volatiles in psyllids (i.e. carrot psyllid, Trioza apicalis, and blue gum psyllid, Ctenarytaina eucalypti) and in clover seed weevils (Apion spp.), respectively. The latter study is part of a larger effort to understand the chemical ecology of clover seed weevils in order to protect clover fields using biological methods.

I currently also collaborate with Caroline Isaksson in a project on great tits (Parus major) in which we aim to disentangle the effects of diet and temperature on blood fatty acid composition and its links to oxidative stress resistance/susceptibility.

My background

I received my Master’s degree in Biology from Lund University in 2006. The Master thesis was carried out in collaboration with the Chemical Ecology group at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, Sweden, where I also conducted my PhD project. During my Master project, we identified an attractive sex pheromone blend that can be used to monitor populations of the Hessian fly gall midge, Mayetiola destructor (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), a serious pest of wheat in the US. As PhD student, I identified the odorant receptors, characterized the olfactory sensory neurons using single sensillum recordings (SSR), and studied behavioural responses to attractants and anti-attractants of the spruce bark beetle, Ips typographus (Coleoptera: Scolytinae). I obtained my doctoral degree in 2011. The title of the thesis is ”Olfaction in the spruce bark beetle, Ips typographus – Receptor, neuron and habitat”.

My latest publications

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