College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series - Summer 2014
22nd July 2014 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace)
Chemical Ecology, Olfaction and
Bio-rational Insect Pest Management
(PhD student, Swansea University, UK)
Zayed has just graduated from his PhD at Swansea University under the supervision of Dr. Tariq Butt. He has a background in Genetics, undertaking a BSc at Swansea before beginning his PhD and he is also an entrepreneur. Zayed's insect trap, the Biofeeder™, earned a place in the finals of the 2014 Innovact Awards. The Biofeeder™ exterminates flying insects, including ones that transmit or vector diseases of both humans and animals and uses these insects as supplementary protein rich fish food. The project aims to reduce disease and increase fish stocks in some of the world’s most economically deprived regions.
Insects utilize olfactory cues for many essential processes. Behavioural responses that result from these cues are either innate or learnt. Understanding an insect’s chemical ecology allows for the design and implementation of bio-rational pest management strategies as well as more efficient monitoring tools. Using prior research on thrips as a case study, the various steps involved in elucidating olfactory cues and relevant considerations are discussed. Various thysanopteran species from divergent families show a similar feeding response to pollen, a highly nutritious but non-essential food source. Furthermore, ancient fossilized thrips have been found with intact Mesozoic gymnosperm pollen suggesting that gymnosperm host utilization in the order evolved long before the radiation of angiosperms, plants which most extant thrips species utilize as hosts. Roles of specific olfactory cues have been implicated in pollen locating within the few gymnosperm specialists, but not in angiosperm utilizing thrips that are known to perceive gymnosperm pollen odour. The study demonstrates how fossil record analysis can aid in explaining responses of extant species to chemicals that would otherwise seem peculiar to their ecology, giving better insight into the evolutionary forces that shape insect olfactory systems.