Professor Matthew Cobb
Behaviour genetics, olfaction, chemical communication and the history of science
I study behaviour, communication and perception and the way in which they are shaped by genes, environment and their interaction.
Most of my research has focused on insect behaviour and its evolutionary and genetic bases, in particular on genetic and developmental factors involved in chemical communication - olfaction and pheromones.
My olfaction research focuses on the nature of olfactory coding, its relation to the evolution and ecology of a given organism, and its underlying genetic and neurological basis. My current model is the Drosophila larva - the maggot has only 21 olfactory receptor neurons, but is capable of detecting over 60 odours. I am particularly interested in comparative studies of chemical communication and its evolution, and have also made comparative studies of the neurogenetics of larval olfaction in Tribolium castaneum.
I am interested in courtship behaviour in a wide range Drosophila species, in particular the role of pheromones in inter- and intra-specific behaviour, and the genetic bases of pheromone production and detection.
I also study the history of science, in particular the 17th century, but I have recently begun to focus on the biology of the 1950s and 1960s.
- Jean-Francois Ferveur Dijon - Drosophila chemical communication and the evolution of courtship behaviour. This Royal Society funded project involves a series of exchanges between our labs, and is set up to include undergraduates.