How do insects smell and taste?

Date & time

1–2pm 7 August 2014


Slatyer Seminar Room, R.N. Robinson Building (Bldg 46), Cunningham Close, ANU


Dr Wei Xu, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences


 Graham Hicks
 +61 2 612 52655



Insects, one of the most important groups of organisms, live in a world of chemistry. They rely upon smell (the olfactory system) to detect mates, food and oviposition sites. They rely upon taste (the gustatory system) to evaluate which foods to feed on and which foods to avoid. In this presentation, I will talk about my research projects on insect olfactory and taste systems at the molecular level. I will also dissect how these insects have fine-tuned their chemical sensory systems to sense their environment and regulate their behaviours. Understanding the molecular basis of these mechanisms will provide a vital tool for assessing crucial natural interactions of hosts and insects, as well as allowing us to develop new strategies for insect control through disruption of chemosensory mechanisms and to predict hosts used by current or potential invaders.

About the speaker

Wei Xu received his PhD in the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) in June, 2010 under the supervision of Dr Walter Leal, a leading authority in insect chemical ecology. His research project was “Olfactory (Smell) proteins in moths and mosquitoes”. Then he came to Australia with an OCE (Office of the Chief Executive) Postdoctoral Fellowship and joined Dr Alisha Anderson’s team at CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences (CES). His study focus is the molecular mechanisms of insect chemosensory systems and their functions in insect-host interaction and co-evolution.

Dr Wei Xu is part of the Cybernose™ group studying insect olfactory system.

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