S31 Odor spaces: from odor molecules to behavior
Michael Schmuker (Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK) and Silke Sachse (Jena)
Live Discussion: Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 18:00 – 19:00h
Olfaction provides animals with the ability to exploit the chemical state of their environment. The common view is that volatiles interact with receptor neurons in the olfactory epithelium of vertebrates or the insect antenna, whose firing patterns then gives rise to an olfactory percept. However, olfactory percepts are not restricted to chemical identity of single volatile molecules. Rather, these molecules occur as part of a complex blend, and the ratios in which they occur carries information about, for instance, the composition and nutritional value of a food source, or the pollination state and nectar content of a flower. Likewise, odor encounters are highly intermittent, as a consequence of the physics of their dispersal in a turbulent medium. The temporal dynamics themselves carry information about source proximity, and the physics of turbulent dispersal shapes in turn the principles of active sensing in olfactory navigation, where animals seek to maximize the information they extract under intermittent odor encounters.
In this symposium we revisit the concept of “odor spaces” that aims to comprehend olfactory perception as a combination of physical, chemical, sensory and perceptual spaces. We shed light on the transitions between these spaces and how they shape olfactory behavior. We have compiled a set of speakers to cover different aspects of transitions between these spaces:
Tatyana Sharpee (Salk Institute, USA) will give insight into the transition from chemical space, that is, the identity of single molecules, to the information that blends of these molecules convey. Michael Schmuker (University of Hertfordshire, UK) will report on the information that intermittent odor encounters carry about the location of odor sources. Bill Hansson (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany) will cover the transition from chemical identity to ecological significance, andEinat Couzin-Fuchs (University of Konstanz, Germany) will talk about how odor maps in the brain relate to behavior in groups of animals. The students talks will be given by Nirag Kadakia (Yale University, USA) who will give insight to the effect of odor timing on navigation in Drosophila, and Mohammed Khallaf (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany) will focus on the evolution of sex pheromones in flies.