Based at the department of Plant Protection Biology, SLU, Sweden, the ‘tephri group’ provides an open online platform for mass collaboration in olfactomics using quantitative GC-EAD and GC-MS data. No such database exist that uses low-cost high throughput analysis. The aim is to populate the database with any species of interest to any researcher. We are looking for researchers, who have access to GC-EAD, to contribute to this, while in return getting comparative data of their species’ olfactome.

Our research has until now focussed on Drosophila and Tephritid fruit flies. Tephritidae species are devastating fruit and vegetable pests with a global distribution (see Fig. 1 below). Novel sustainable tools are urgently needed to reduce their impact on production and livelihoods. In our group we developed a novel comprehensive and comparative method to map out the olfactory sensitivities, and through a series analyses surface how these olfactory sensitivities relate to the molecular ecology of species, and how to translate these in terms of attractants (see publications). As attractants have a huge potential in novel sustainable control methods through manipulating insect behavior, the research fast tracks the research to application trajectory, and supports integrated pest management in smallholder and large-scale farm settings.

Fundamental to our approach is the comparison of ecologically and/or phylogenetically divergent species, and building comprehensive olfactome databases for these. Currently we study 8 species of tephritids within the families of Bactrocera, Ceratitis, Rhagoletis and Zeugodacus  and several species of Drosophila. Using complex blends of host and food odors, separated through gas chromatography, we qualitatively and quantitatively map antennal and palpal responses, compare these across species and correlate this on one hand to underlying sensory circuit elements, while at the same time screening for evolutionary and phylogenetic signals. These analyses provide a solid understanding of commonalities and differences and how this relates to attraction and ecological ‘niche’.

Using this olfactomic approach, we have successfully identified novel lures for these species using our analytic pipeline and wish to extend this, through mass collaboration, to ultimately cover all main insect taxa. Using a set of standardized analysis tools, volatilome and olfactome data of a given species can be fed into our olfactome database and compared to existing volatilomes and olfactomes. Participation is highly favorable, as the platform instantly returns eco-evo analysis of olfactomes with comparisons of species that are already in the database. If interested in participating, please do contact us.

Subtropical/tropical Tephritidae plotted on a KoppenGeiger Map. Data points have been downloaded from CABI (https://www.cabi.org/isc/).