current projects

 The courtship ritual of  Drosophila melanogaster  involves singing, tapping, and copulation.


We recently showed that chemosensory perception can have long term effects on fertility (Ng et al., Nat Comm, 2015). We are attempting to identify the downstream modulators that mediate this effect.

2.Influence of the microbiome on host physiology

The microbiome, the collection of microbes that resides within an organism, has emerged as a major influence in numerous facets of host physiology including lifespan, metabolism, reproduction, and some behaviors. Using a comparative approach combined with powerful Drosophila genetic tools and biochemical analysis, we seek to understand how environmental microbes contribute to the microbiome composition, health, and physiology of resident hosts.


The Hawaiian Drosophila clade exhibit spectacular ecological and behavioral variation. We seek to characterize the chemical diversity of Hawaiian drosophilid cuticular lipids and pheromones using mass spectrometry and the influence of environmental and social factors. Transcriptomics will be used to examine the underlying biosynthetic pathways. 


 Mass spectrometry images of various lipid species throughout whole body sections of  Drosophila  (see Niehoff et al., 2014) .

Stephen Blanksby (Queensland University of Technology, Australia): Application of ozone- and collision-induced dissociation for structural characterization of lipid pheromones.

Robert Chip Cody (JEOL USA): Chemical profiling of biological tissue by Direct Analysis in Real Time mass spectrometry (DART MS).

Klaus Dreisewerd (University of Münster, Germany): Mass spectrometry imaging of Drosophila lipids and pheromones; chemical profiling of live insects.

Kenji Mori (University of Tokyo, Japan): Chemical synthesis of insect pheromones

Henry Chung (Michigan State University, USA): Genetic control of Drosophila pheromone profile

Jonathan Massey and Patricia Wittkopp (University of Michigan, USA): Genetic control of natural variation in Drosophila cuticular hydrocarbon profiles

Jeremy Davis and Leonie Moyle (Indiana University, USA): Evolution of Drosophila cuticular hydrocarbon profiles

Toshie Kai (Osaka University, Japan): Environmental and pheromonal influence on Drosophila oogenesis



We welcome collaborations with researchers interested in mass spectrometry instrumentation, organic synthesis, and the chemical ecology of other organisms.