How animals make use of different sensory modalities to communicate with each other has always been an intriguing subject to me, perhaps driving my current scientific curiosity towards chemical communication in Insects.
After the completion of a Master in Bioengineering (majoring in Crop protection and Biotechnologies) at the University of Agronomy and Biotechnologies (Gembloux, Belgium, 2004), I started working in the Pheromone Group at Lund University where I had earlier performed my master project on gene regulation in castes of a Rhinotermitidae termite.
Benefiting from interactions with Prof. Christer Löfstedt who introduced me to the exciting theme of mate communication in moths, I devoted my PhD (from 2006 - 2010) to look at how female moth sex pheromones are biosynthesized and the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying their evolution across Lepidoptera.
I established yeast in vitro expression assays and mutagenesis techniques to investigate the biological function of a series of genes encoding key pheromone gland (picture) production enzymes such as fatty-acyl-CoA desaturases (i.e., ∆6, ∆9, ∆11) and fatty-acyl-CoA reductases (pgFARs). I combine molecular, functional, bioinformatics and phylogenetics approaches with a keen interest to disentangle questions on sex pheromone evolution and the diversification of moth mating systems.