Best of 2023: Across Countries and Applications

Materials Science, Muscle Physiology, Olfaction & Plume Tracking, Publication Review|

2023 has proved to be a particularly fruitful year for scientific discovery, with a multitude of pioneering studies spanning continents and disciplines. From the intricate workings of muscle physiology in Switzerland to the nuanced understanding of migraine mechanisms in the USA, the discernment of mosquito olfactory processing in India, and the innovative strides in sustainable materials science in Germany and Austria, this year's research highlights embody the spirit of global collaboration and scientific ingenuity. We hope that, by highlighting the multitude of ways our instruments provide precise and reliable data, future and current researchers can draw inspiration for new and innovative ways to collaborate across borders.

  • Scents of Security - Emerging Olfaction Applications with Biorobots

Scents of Security: Emerging Olfaction Applications with Biorobots

Olfaction & Plume Tracking, Publication Review|

The following publication review showcases several new and exciting findings in the olfactory sciences, highlighting how our instruments helped these researchers stir up the lab. The natural world often serves as inspiration for innovation, and insects – specifically their olfactory systems – have become a recent research topic of interest. Given the remarkable sensitivity of insect odor detection systems, the potential applications of this budding field are numerous.

Quantitative assessment of olfactory dysfunction accurately detects asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Although many people that contract COVID-19 remain asymptomatic, they may still transmit the virus. Therefore, it is important to identify these carriers to help prevent the spread of the disease. This study aimed to assess loss of smell and olfactory dysfunction in asymptomatic carriers, and to establish a precise method to quantify these parameters. The authors recorded detection in response to ten odorants at varying concentrations in normal healthy subjects and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.

Olfactory and Neuromodulatory Signals Reverse Visual Object Avoidance to Approach in Drosophila

Sensory plasticity in insects is mediated by behaviour-regulating biogenic amines. Some of these regulated behaviours include olfactory learning, aggression, and feeding. In Drosophila melanogaster, octopamine influences flight patterns and the response of motion-detecting neurons. This study analyzed both odor- and optogenetic-induced flight patterns using a flight simulator and odour delivery system. In addition to this, Aurora’s 200B miniPID sensor was used to at the beginning of each experiment to confirm air/odour at the location of the fly. In odourless air, it was found that the flies steered toward a vertical bar, which may mimic a plant stalk, but avoided a small box. It is thought that the small box may appear to be threatening but could also appear to be food. As such, they tested the animals’ response to each object in the presence of odours considered attractive to D. melanogaster. When Apple Cider Vinegar or ethanol odourant was added to the air, flies approached the small box that was previously avoided, and more strongly approached the vertical bar. However, in the presence of the odourant benzaldehyde, an odour that flies avoid, the flies displayed avoidance of the small object but continued to approach the vertical bar. These results suggest that visual valence reversal is produced by attractive odourants, but not aversive odourants. To elucidate how olfactory signals are coupled with behaviours, the authors tested whether aminergic neuromodulation was involved in odour-induced visual valence reversal. Transgenic flies expressing Chrimson, a red shifted excitatory channelrhodopsin, in aminergic neurons were subjected to stimulation by Chrimson-exciting illumination. Optogenetic depolarization of octopaminergic (OA) or tyraminergic (TA) neurons by the Tdc2-Gal4 driver changed the flight response to the small box from aversion to approach. Similar avoidance reversal was seen in 15/16 flies upon Tdc2 > Chrimson activation and in flies expressing Chrimson in T4 and T5 neurons. Taken together, this study provides insight into a model for multisensory processing in which attractive odors stimulate Tdc2 release, thus increasing response gain of the motion vision pathway.

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