2234B GENOMICS BUILDING
University of California
Riverside, CA 92521
(951) 827-5998 (Voice)
(951) 827-3086 (Fax)
Assistant Professor of Entomology
- College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
- Ph.D. Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology 2005
- Yale University
2006 - Polak Young Investigator Award in recognition of innovative research, Association of Chemoreception Sciences ACHEMS
2005 - John Spangler Nicholas Prize for outstanding doctoral candidate in Experimental Zoology, Yale University
- Ray Lab Website
The main focus of this laboratory is to understand the molecular, neuronal and physiological basis of insect chemoreception and behavior. Most insects can detect and discriminate between a wide variety of odorants which is critical for a number of behaviors like finding food, mating, and oviposition. Odor molecules are detected by 7-transmembrane Odor Receptor proteins present on the surface of neurons in the olfactory organs. A large family of 60 Odor receptor (Or) genes was first identified in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster,which subsequently enabled the identification of similar families from genomes of several other insect species.
The odor responses of individual odor receptors can be analyzed in great detail using an array of powerful molecular, genetic, bioinformatic and physiological means. Our lab will employ these approaches to address a number of important problems in entomology and neuroscience.
The molecular basis of olfaction in insect vectors of disease
Insects like mosquitoes, tsetse flies, sand flies, house flies and ticks carry a large number of debilitating diseases like malaria, yellow fever, dengue, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, african sleeping sickness, chagas disease, plague, west nile virus and typhus. Many insect vectors of disease find their human hosts through the sense of smell. We will study the function of odor receptor genes from these species to better understand the molecular basis of insect-host attraction.
- The molecular basis of olfaction in agricultural pests
A large amount of agricultural crops and stored produce are consumed by insects like flies, moths and beetles. Many of these agricultural pests locate their food using olfactory cues. We will study the function of odor receptor genes from these insects to better understand the molecular basis of host attraction.
- A laboratory based molecular approach to insect pest control
Identification of odor receptors that guide insect - host and insect - insect interactions will provide us with new opportunities in pest control. We will employ high-throughput laboratory based functional assays to identify volatile compounds that can activate, inhibit or block odor receptors very efficiently. These compounds will be tested for behavior modifying effects and for usefulness as trapping agents, repellents, or masking agents.
- Analysis of neuronal circuits that underlie odor guided behaviors
Very little is known about neuronal circuits in the central nervous system that give rise to specific odor guided behaviors. Our lab is interested in developing novel methods to analyze activity of neuronal circuits in the insect brain.
Turner SL and Ray A. (2009) Modification of CO2 avoidance behaviour in Drosophila by inhibitory odorants. Nature 461, 277-281.
Fuss SH. and Ray A. (2009) Mechanisms of odorant receptor gene choice in Drosophila and vertebrates. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 41(2009) 101-112.
Tichy A., Ray A., and Carlson JR (2008) A new Drosophila POU gene, pdm3, acts in odor receptor expression and axon targeting of olfactory neurons. Journal of Neuroscience July 9, 28, 7121-7129.
Ray A., van Naters WvdG, and Carlson JR (2008) A Regulatory Code for Neuron-Specific Odor Receptor Expression. PLoS Biology 6(5): e125 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060125.
Ray, A., van der Goes van Naters, W., Shiraiwa, T., and Carlson, J. R. (2007). Mechanisms of odor receptor gene choice in Drosophila. Neuron 53, 353-369.