The Vickers Lab
Welcome to the homepage of the Vickers lab in the Department of Biology at the University of Utah. In broad terms, our focus is on understanding the neural basis of naturally-occurring behaviors otherwise known as neuroethology. Historically, the lab has investigated odor-mediated behaviors primarily in adult moths. Adult moths are highly dependent upon odors that they use in mate choice, feeding and egg-laying. Of particular interest is the communication that occurs between males and females. Since most moths are primarily nocturnal they are unable to locate suitable mates visually (as compared to their related counterparts, butterflies). Females emit tiny amounts of a blend of compounds from a specialized gland located at the tip of the abdomen called the pheromone gland. Males are highly sensitive to this blend and respond to it by flying upwind to locate the calling female. Males are able to discriminate the blend of females of their species (conspecifics) from the blends of closely related species. We study how the moth olfactory system is organized to detect, process and discriminate odor so that they can accomplish this vital task without error. For more detailed information on current projects please follow the link to our Projects page.
Vickers Lab News
Josè Crespo (graduate student) received the award for best student poster in the Division
of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry at the Society for Integrative and Comparative
held in Salt Lake City, January 2011. Josè's poster was entitled: Olfactory modulation of pre-flight shivering behavior in moths.
Neil Vickers presents paper "Chemosensory contributions to moth pheromone-mediated behavior" at the 9th International Congress of Neuroethology
in Salamanca Spain.
Paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailing recent findings from a genetic study of the olfactory divergence between male Heliothis virescens and Heliothis subflexa. This study was carried out in collaboration with Dr. Fred Gould's group at North Carolina State University. Read the Commentary article by Dave Heckel.
Upcoming Seminars and Events
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