Animals from insects to mammals communicate with odours. In mate search and choice, odours play a key role in several species. In my research I am interested in pheromones and individual odours involved in these processes, and particularly the molecular and transcriptional programs ultimately responsible for producing odours. What genes are crucial for producing species-specific odours like pheromones and individual odours in larger animals? During my PhD at Lund University I studied genes involved in pheromone production of moths. In my postdoc I have focused on slightly larger yet flying organisms, namely birds.
Currently I am doing a postdoc in a project where we study a subantarctic seabird, the Blue petrel, which has a very well developed sense of smell. The birds are able to find their partner and underground nest just by smell. I am analysing MHC immune genes (Major Histocompatibility Complex) and their possible influence on personal odour and mate choice in these birds. The MHC genes is the most variable gene family found in vertebrates. The MHC recognizes a wide range of pathogens but is also involved in partner choice in for example mammals.
M Strandh, C Löfstedt and T Johansson. 2009. Global transcriptional analysis of pheromone biosynthesis-related genes in the female turnip moth, Agrotis segetum (Noctuidae) using a custom-made cDNA microarray. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 7: 484-489.
M Strandh, T Johansson, D Ahrén and C Löfstedt. 2008. Transcriptional analysis of the pheromone gland of the turnip moth, Agrotis segetum (Noctuidae) reveals candidate genes involved in pheromone production. Insect Molecular Biology, 17: 73-85.
M Liénard, M Strandh, E Hedenström, T Johansson and C Löfstedt. 2008. Key biosynthetic gene subfamily recruited for pheromone production prior to the extensive radiation of Lepidoptera. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 8:270.