Gene Discovery Pushes Back Origins of Insect Sense of Smell

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. Photo Credit: David R. Madison

Doctoral candidate Philipp Brand, Population Biology Graduate Group, and his colleagues at the University of California, Davis, had just finished compiling the genome, or complete set of genetic material of the firebrat — a tiny wingless, nocturnal insect found throughout much of the world — when something surprised him.