Gene Discovery Pushes Back Origins of Insect Sense of Smell

Firebrat (Thermobia domesticai)
The firebrat (Thermobia domesticai), found throughout the world under rocks and leaf litter, is an indoor pest of dog food, stored foods, fabric and book bindings. David R. Madison

The sensory gene is considered one of an insect’s most important genes, crucial to foraging, mating and avoiding predators.

“It was interesting because a paper published in 2014 claimed that odorant receptors evolved with winged flight and were thus absent in ancestrally wingless (Apterygota) insects,” said Brand, a member of the UC Davis Population Biology Graduate Group who researches the evolution of olfactory/odorantreceptor genes in orchid bees. “Since firebrats are apterygote, we now had proof that this gene family is more ancient than previously thought.”  Read the article here.