The EPB department uses a rich set of methods and techniques to conduct research in the field of chemical ecology, to investigate how chemicals produced by plants and insects control insect behaviour and plant responses, and the genetic mechanisms underlying these interactions.
A large wind tunnel is available to measure insect flight behaviour and orientation responses to pheromones and plant odours. Orientation behaviour of smaller arthropods can be measured on an extra small "Kramer sphere", a locomotion compensator that allows the study of free walking insect down to the scale of mites.
To quantify orientation responsens of walking insects to odours, we use several types of olfactomters, such as Y-tube olfactometers and 4 choice olfactometers
Sampling odours produced by insects and plants (headspace sampling) is a key step in chemo-ecological analysis. We use several multi-channel sampling systems to collect odours for behavioural and chemical analyses. In addition, we have a setup for quick and effective collection of pheromones from headspace with PDMS fibers (see Lievers & Groot, 2016).
We have gas chromatographs that are optimised for specific analyses: a fully automated system to analyse extremely small amounts of pheromone, and a system with a state of the art cold-on-column injector for high resolution and reduced discrimination of high boiling point compounds like cuticular hydrocarbons. In addition, we have access to the IBED facilities for GC, HPLC and MS.
We have an electrophysiological setup with high quality optics to make single cells recordings (SSR), singel unit recordings (tip recording), and electro-antennograms (EAG) from insect sensory organs.
GC-SSR and GC-EAD
The EPB electrophysiology lab is one of the few places in the Netherlands were GC output is coupled with EAG or SSR equipment to use the insect itself as a biological detector (GC-SSR and GC-EAD). In this setup we use a "Deans switch" that allows precise control of the split ratio between the flame ionisation detector in the GC and the insect’s antennal "detector".
For CRISPR-cas9 experiments we have a femtojet that allows us to inject guide RNA in insect eggs. With this technique individual genes can be manipulated to study their effects on physiology and behaviour.
Our state-of-the-art IBED molecular genetic laboratory is equipped for genetic, genomic and transcriptomic analyses .