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Identification of chemosensory genes from insects

Chemical communication in insects has been studied for long time from the side of chemistry, and a huge amount of knowledge has been accumulated about the involved chemical substances such as pheromones and kairomones. In contrast, our knowledge from the biology side is surprisingly limited, particularly in terms of variation and diversity among species. In other words, we may know pheromone compounds involved in the communication of some insect species, but we don't know which receptors are involved in the perception of those pheromones.

Recent progress in the sequencing technology using new generation sequencers brought the genome analysis in non-model insects to a new stage. Now it is feasible to clone chemosensory genes expressed in the insect antennae by RNA-seq analysis. Followed by functional analysis using known allelochemicals, the corresponding receptors may be identified. 

Currently we are conducting the RNA-seq analysis of antenna-derived cDNA libraries from several species, particularly with interest in the relationship between the size of chemoreceptor gene repertoire and food specialization. 

(Takashi Matsuo)