Professor and Chairman of Biology
The Vickers Lab home page
Brain and Behavior
Neuroethology of olfaction
Dr. Vickers is interested in understanding the neural underpinnings of behaviors mediated by olfaction. The basis for our neuroethological approach is to combine wind-tunnel and field studies of pheromone-mediated flight behavior with intracellular neurophysiological investigations of the olfactory system in several related species of moth. Moths are a useful model system in which to study olfaction because: 1. odors elicit stereotypical behaviors; 2. much is known about the individual odorants and blends that attract or repel moths; 3. moths have an accessible olfactory system that lends itself to neurophysiological investigation. These studies are leading to new insights into both the sensory processing of odor information by the brain and the evolution of olfactory communication. The species that we use are important agricultural pests raising the possibility that new understandings arising from our research will also lead to more effective and environmentally rational means of pest control.
Gould, F., Estock, M., Hillier, N.K., Powell, B., Groot, A.T., Ward, C.M., Emerson, J.L., Schal, C., and Vickers, N.J. (2010) Sexual isolation of male moths explained by a single pheromone response QTL containing four receptor genes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 107:8660-8665. DOI 10.1073/pnas.0910945107.
Hillier, N.K. and Vickers, N.J. (2007) Physiology and antennal lobe projections of olfactory receptor neurons from sexually isomorphic sensilla on male Heliothis virescens. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 193:649-663. DOI 10.1007/s00359-007-0220-3
Vickers, N. J. (2006) Inheritance of olfactory preferences. I. Pheromone-mediated behavioral responses of Heliothis subflexa xHeliothis virescens hybrid males. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 68:63-74.
Vickers, N. J. (2006) Inheritance of olfactory preferences. III. Processing of pheromonal signals in the antennal lobe of Heliothis subflexa x Heliothis virescens hybrid males. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 68:90-108.
Vickers, N. J., Poole, K., and Linn, Jr., C. E. (2005) Plasticity in central olfactory processing and pheromone blend discrimination following inter-species antennal imaginal disc transplantation. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 491:141-156.
Vickers, N. J., Poole, K., and Linn Jr., C. E. (2003) Consequences of interspecies antennal imaginal disc transplantation on organization of olfactory glomeruli and pheromone blend discrimination. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 466:377-388.
Vickers, N. J., and Christensen, T. A. (2003) Functional divergence of spatially conserved olfactory glomeruli in two related moth species. Chemical Senses, 28:325-338.