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Accueil du site > Scientific departments > Sensory ecology

Sensory ecology department (ECOSENS)

ECOSENS organization chart (French) Where is located the department ? UPMC and Versailles


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Red palm weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
D. Rochat©UMR7618

Animals use their chemical senses – olfaction and taste – to interpret their environment and to adapt to new ecological niches. Insects appear as ideal models to decipher the molecular and neurobiological bases of these chemical senses and to investigate their importance at the individual and the population levels.

The general objectives of the Sensory ecology Department are to understand how insects perceive their chemical environment and how phenotypic and genotypic variations allow them to adapt to changing environment, through phenotypic plasticity and, at a large time scale, evolutionary changes. Thus, the department integrates all the dimensions of chemical perception in insects, considering the ecosystem and evolutionary aspects.

We are studying :

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Larva of the Egyptian cotton leafworm Spodoptera littoralis
M. Renou©UMR7618
  • The chemical landscapes and the sensory signals the insect are sensitive to
  • The mechanisms of their reception at the peripheral level (antennae, proboscis,…)
  • Their integration in the central nervous system
  • The behavioural responses
  • The consequences on insect intra and inter-species relationship, in a complex and changing environment.

This department uses a unique combination of know-how, including bioinformatics, functional genomics, molecular genetics, biochemistry, physico-chemistry, neuroanatomy, imaging, electrophysiology, ethology and modeling, developing approaches from genes to fields, from neurons to biophysical models, from individuals to populations. With crop pests as main models, the department conducts not only basic science but also proposes solutions for pest control.

The department is divided in two teams that work together to investigate sensory adaptation, each at its own level : the CREA team (“Chemoreception and adaptation”) focuses on signals and their reception at the peripheral level, the NEO team (“Neuroethology of olfaction”) focuses on olfactory coding, from the transduction to central integration and insect orientation.

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Egyptian cotton leafworm Spodoptera littoralis
M. Renou©UMR7618


Emmanuelle JACQUIN-JOLY, INRA Senior scientist, ECOSENS department manager