Research Topic

Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Sensory Functions in Insect Models

About this Research Topic

Sensory functions are an initial step in communicating with our environment. All biological systems need to monitor fluctuation of the surrounding physical/chemical parameters to exert a preferable or an aversive response, adjust their inner states, and adapt to new circumstances. Organisms have evolved a variety of sensory molecules that can detect specific parameters and convert these into intracellular signals. In the last two decades, Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) have emerged as a powerful model in Sensory Biology studies. This tiny organism is quite sensitive to changes in their environment and immediately react with simple and robust behaviors, relying on their simpler neural circuits. They share common mechanisms in many sensory modalities with vertebrates including the classical five senses, nociception, and temperature sensation. In addition to fruit flies, the importance of insect studies has been growing particularly in insect pests exemplified by mosquitoes, a disease vector.

Recent advances in Sensory Biology have identified a diverse set of molecules involved in the sensory functions in fruit flies and a few other insects. There exists, however, a number of uncertainties regarding how the environmental signals are received, converted, and transmitted by these molecules. While some of them were found in detections of specific environmental stimuli, in many cases functional studies have not yet been performed. There exist examples in which multiple receptors and ion channels play combinatory roles to sense a single cue. However, it is obvious that many sensory molecules appear to be polymodal receptors, meaning a receptor or an ion channel can be activated by multiple stimulations and regulated by multiple signaling pathways. Unraveling these complex sensory processes in insect models, therefore, is beneficial for basic neuroscientific research and in the development of new strategies of integral pest management.

This Research Topic aims to collect original articles and reviews addressing molecular/cellular mechanisms of sensory functions particularly in Drosophila melanogaster and insect pests such as mosquitoes, rice pests, and Drosophila suzukii (spotted wing Drosophila). This may include the identification of sensory molecules and signaling cascades, the characterization of properties of sensory neurons, and the evaluation of associated behavioral consequences. We also welcome studies establishing novel techniques and methodologies that can be used in measuring activity of neurons triggered by sensory inputs and quantifying behaviors, and eagerly accept studies clarifying the modes of action of novel/existing compounds on the sensory functions in insect pests. The goal of this Research Topic is to shed light on the importance of insect models in Sensory Biology and Neuroscience.


Keywords: Sensory Function, Phototransduction, Olfactory Functions, Gustatory Functions, Auditory Functions, Tactile/Temperature Sensations, Nociception, Sensory Molecule, Receptor, Ion Channel, Primary Sensory Neurons, Behavior, Drosophila, Mosquito, Insect Pest


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Sensory functions are an initial step in communicating with our environment. All biological systems need to monitor fluctuation of the surrounding physical/chemical parameters to exert a preferable or an aversive response, adjust their inner states, and adapt to new circumstances. Organisms have evolved a variety of sensory molecules that can detect specific parameters and convert these into intracellular signals. In the last two decades, Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) have emerged as a powerful model in Sensory Biology studies. This tiny organism is quite sensitive to changes in their environment and immediately react with simple and robust behaviors, relying on their simpler neural circuits. They share common mechanisms in many sensory modalities with vertebrates including the classical five senses, nociception, and temperature sensation. In addition to fruit flies, the importance of insect studies has been growing particularly in insect pests exemplified by mosquitoes, a disease vector.

Recent advances in Sensory Biology have identified a diverse set of molecules involved in the sensory functions in fruit flies and a few other insects. There exists, however, a number of uncertainties regarding how the environmental signals are received, converted, and transmitted by these molecules. While some of them were found in detections of specific environmental stimuli, in many cases functional studies have not yet been performed. There exist examples in which multiple receptors and ion channels play combinatory roles to sense a single cue. However, it is obvious that many sensory molecules appear to be polymodal receptors, meaning a receptor or an ion channel can be activated by multiple stimulations and regulated by multiple signaling pathways. Unraveling these complex sensory processes in insect models, therefore, is beneficial for basic neuroscientific research and in the development of new strategies of integral pest management.

This Research Topic aims to collect original articles and reviews addressing molecular/cellular mechanisms of sensory functions particularly in Drosophila melanogaster and insect pests such as mosquitoes, rice pests, and Drosophila suzukii (spotted wing Drosophila). This may include the identification of sensory molecules and signaling cascades, the characterization of properties of sensory neurons, and the evaluation of associated behavioral consequences. We also welcome studies establishing novel techniques and methodologies that can be used in measuring activity of neurons triggered by sensory inputs and quantifying behaviors, and eagerly accept studies clarifying the modes of action of novel/existing compounds on the sensory functions in insect pests. The goal of this Research Topic is to shed light on the importance of insect models in Sensory Biology and Neuroscience.


Keywords: Sensory Function, Phototransduction, Olfactory Functions, Gustatory Functions, Auditory Functions, Tactile/Temperature Sensations, Nociception, Sensory Molecule, Receptor, Ion Channel, Primary Sensory Neurons, Behavior, Drosophila, Mosquito, Insect Pest


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

04 November 2021 Abstract
01 March 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

04 November 2021 Abstract
01 March 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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