Chemical Ecology & Molecular Basis of Insect Olfaction

Home Department
Molecular and Cellular Biology

Just Published in PNAS

Mosquito odorant receptor for DEET and methyl jasmonate

Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Silencing the odorant receptor co-receptor RproOrco affects the physiology and behavior of the Chagas disease vector Rhodnius prolixus

Current Opinion in Insect Science

The enigmatic reception of DEET - the gold standard of insect repellents

American Entomologist

Deciphering the Rosetta Stone of Insect Chemical Communication


Binding of a fluorescence reporter and a ligand to an odorant-binding protein of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti

Frontiers in Physiology

Selectivity of odorant-binding proteins from the southern house mosquito tested against physiologically relevant ligands

Current Lab Members:

Dr. Walter S. Leal, PI

Dr. Pingxi Xu, Project Scientist

Dr. Young-Moo Choo, Postdoctoral Scholar

Jiankun Yi, Visiting Researcher

Dr. Nik Nikbakht, Project Scientist

Garrison Buss, Undergraduate Student

Thao Tram, Undergraduate Student

Gabriel M. Leal, High School Student

Informacao para candidatos a bolsa de pos doutorado do programa Ciencias Sem Fronteiras (CsF): infelizmente o nosso laboratorio nao mais aceita bolsistas do CsF com menos de cinco anos de experiencia.

Where are they now?

Yuko Ishida, Research Scientist
ERATO Asano Active Enzyme Molecule Project

Zain Syed, Assistant Professor
University of Notre Dame

Julien Pelletier, Lecturer
Keele University

Wei Xu, Postdoctoral Fellow
CSIRO, Australia

Zhao Liu, Lecturer
Southwest University, China

Carlos Ueira, Chair, Genetics and Biochemistry Program
Universidade Federal de Uberlandia

Kevin Cloonan, Ph.D. Candidate
Penn State

Fen Zhu, Associate Professor
Huazhong Agricultural University

Jiao Yin, Associate Professor
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Washington Carvalho, Ph.D. Candidate
Universidade Federal de Uberlandia

Alyssa De La Rosa, Research Associate
USDA's Commodity Protection and Quality Research Unit

Hongxia Duan, Associate Professor
Department of Applied Chemistry, College of Science, China Agricultural University

Recent Publications in PNAS

Differential expression of olfactory genes in the southern house mosquito and insights into unique odorant receptor gene isoforms

Pheromone discrimination by a pH-tuned polymorphism of the Bombyx mori pheromone-binding protein

Recent Publication in PLoS ONE
Quasi-Double-Blind Screening of Semiochemicals for Reducing Navel Orangeworm Oviposition on Almonds

Other Recent Publications

RNAi-based demonstration of direct link between specific odorant receptors and mosquito oviposition behavior.
Zhu F, Xu P, Barbosa RM, Choo YM, Leal WS. Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2013 Oct;43(10):916-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2013.07.008. Epub 2013 Aug 2. PMID: 23911547

Silent, generic and plant kairomone sensitive odorant receptors from the Southern house mosquito.
Xu P, Choo YM, Pelletier J, Sujimoto FR, Hughes DT, Zhu F, Atungulu E, Cornel AJ, Luetje CW, Leal WS. J Insect Physiol. 2013 Sep;59(9):961-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2013.07.004. Epub 2013 Jul 19. PMID: 23876610

Identification and characterization of an antennae-specific aldehyde oxidase from the navel orangeworm.
Choo YM, Pelletier J, Atungulu E, Leal WS. PLoS One. 2013 Jun 24;8(6):e67794. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067794. Print 2013. PMID: 23826341

Silencing of P-glycoprotein increases mortality in temephos-treated Aedes aegypti larvae.
Figueira-Mansur J, Ferreira-Pereira A, Mansur JF, Franco TA, Alvarenga ES, Sorgine MH, Neves BC, Melo AC, Leal WS, Masuda H, Moreira MF. Insect Mol Biol. 2013 Aug 27. doi: 10.1111/imb.12052.

Probing insect odorant receptors with their cognate ligands: insights into structural features.
Xu P, Leal WS. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 Jun 7;435(3):477-82. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.05.015. Epub 2013 May 11. PMID: 23673297

Healing power of honey.
Leal WS. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 28;110(22):8763-4. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1306617110. Epub 2013 May 3. No abstract available. PMID: 23645636

Crystallographic observation of pH-induced conformational changes in the Amyelois transitella pheromone-binding protein AtraPBP1.
di Luccio E, Ishida Y, Leal WS, Wilson DK. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e53840. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053840. Epub 2013 Feb 13. PMID: 23418423

Fatty acid solubilizer from the oral disk of the blowfly.
Ishida Y, Ishibashi J, Leal WS. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e51779. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051779. Epub 2013 Jan 11. PMID: 23326317

Odorant reception in insects: roles of receptors, binding proteins, and degrading enzymes.
Leal WS. Annu Rev Entomol. 2013;58:373-91. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-120811-153635. Epub 2012 Sep 27. Review. PMID: 23020622

Specificity determinants of the silkworm moth sex pheromone.
Xu P, Hooper AM, Pickett JA, Leal WS. PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44190. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044190. Epub 2012 Sep 5. PMID: 22957053

Moth sex pheromone receptors and deceitful parapheromones.
Xu P, Garczynski SF, Atungulu E, Syed Z, Choo YM, Vidal DM, Zitelli CH, Leal WS. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041653. Epub 2012 Jul 20. PMID: 22911835

ESA Will Host 2016 International Congress
of Entomology in Orlando, FL
Walter Leal and Alvin Simmons
are Co-Chairs

First Silver Medal to Davis
Walter Leal selected as receipient
of the ISCE Silver Medal
Read article by Kathy Garvey

Other Exciting News!
Leal Lab Recieves NIH-NIAID Support
To Study Olfaction in Culex Mosquitoes and
To Develop Better Oviposition Attractants

Grad student Kevin Cloonan
gives award-wining presentation at ESA

China Scholarship Council
Signs agreement with UC Davis
To promote exchange of students and scholars

New Opportunities for Chinese Graduate Students
To Study Insect Olfaction and Chemical Communication

Walter Leal is Elected
Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society

Walter Leal Named Recipient of the 2011
Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity

from the Entomological Society of America


Other Publications
View my collection, "My Bibliography" from NCBI

Published in the Public Library of Sciences-PLoS ONE:
Moth Sex Pheromone Receptors and Deceitful Parapheromones

Published in the Public Library of Sciences-PLoS ONE:
Conserved Odorant-Binding Proteins from Aphids and Eavesdropping Predators

Published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments:
Electrophysiological Measurements from a Moth Olfactory System
Link to

Published in the Journal of Insect Physiology:
Characterization of olfactory genes in the antennae of the house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus

Published in the Journal of Molecular Biology:
Dynamic conformational equilibria in the physiological function of the Bombyx mori pheromone-binding protein

Published in the Public Library of Sciences-PLoS ONE:
Generic insect repellent detector from the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster

Published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications:
Extrusion of the C-terminal helix in navel orangeworm moth pheromone-binding protein (AtraPBP1) controls pheromone binding

Published in the Journal of Chemical Ecology:
Pheromone binding to general odorant-binding proteins from the navel orangeworm

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA:
Crystal and solution structures of an odorant-binding protein from the southern house mosquito complexed with an oviposition pheromone

Published in the Public Library of Sciences-PLoS ONE:
Odorant-Binding Proteins of the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles funestus sensu stricto

Published in the Journal of Chemical Ecology (Open Access)
CLICK HERE-Odorant Receptor from the Southern House Mosquito
Narrowly Tuned to the Oviposition Attractant Skatole

Of Moths & Flies

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS
CLICK HERE-Bombykol receptors in the silkworm moth and the fruit fly

See articles:
By Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Newsroom
The Davis Enterprise

JCE Cover
Published in the Journal of Chemical Ecology
CLICK HERE-Knockdown of a Mosquito Odorant-binding Protein
Involved in the Sensitive Detection of Oviposition Attractants


Published in March 4, 2010:
The treacherous scent of a human

Mining the Genome of the Southern House Mosquito for Molecular Targets

Published in the Public Library of Sciences-PLoS ONE:
Odorant Receptor Sensitive to an Oviposition Attractant


Is now Commercially Avilable by

Of Birds & Humans

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS
CLICK HERE-Nonanal: A Mosquito Attractant from Birds and Humans

In This Issue: PNAS November 3, 2009
Compound may attract West Nile virus-harboring mosquitoes

Featured in SCIENCE
To Mosquitoes, We Smell Like Bird

Recommeded by Faculty of 1000
MUST READ Factor 6.0

Highlights from the Media:

Los Angeles Times
The Sacramento Bee
UC Newsroom: Dominant odor that lures mosquitoes identified
See Wikipedia
The Davis Enterpise
The Daily Democrat
Discovery CHANNEL
Selected Science News
U.S.News & World Report
National Science Foundation: Where Discoveries Begin

NPR-Insight: Listen to Interview with Jeffrey Callison

Prospecting the Genome of Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus
for Olfactory Proteins

Published in the Public Library of Sciences-PLoS ONE:
Genome Analysis and Expression Patterns of Odorant-Binding Proteins from the Southern House Mosquito

Structure of a Mosquito Odorant-Binding Protein

Published in the Public Library of Sciences-PLoS ONE:
Structure of an Odorant-Binding Protein from the Mosquito Aedes aegypti Suggests a Binding Pocket Covered by a pH-Sensitive “Lid”

Paving the way for Reverse Chemical Ecology

Published in the Public Library of Sciences-PLoS ONE:
Olfactory Proteins Mediating Chemical Communication in the Navel Orangeworm Moth, Amyelois transitella

Walter Leal elected Fellow of the Entomological Society of America (ESA)

Walter Leal
Kathy Keatley Garvey wrote:
Chemical Ecologist Selected as an ESA Fellow

See articles:
in the Davis Enterprise
in California Farmer
in ComunidadeNews (in Portuguese)

SUSPROT Students are Ag Ambassadors

Aline & Diogo
See articles:
By Kathy Keatley Garvey
in The Daily Democrat
in ComunidadeNews (in Portuguese)

50th Birthday of Pheromones
See here a silkworm male responding to synthetic bombykol
in a Y-olfactometer

This movie, courtesy of Dr. Karl-Ernst Kaissling (Max Planck Institute),
shows a silkworm male responding to a calling female
and to female gland exudate (natural pheromone).
It is an excellent demonstration for Elementary School Teachers

A low resolution version for low-speed connections is here

Groundbreaking Research!!!

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS
How the insect repellent DEET works

Highlights from the Media:
The New York Times
UC Davis News Service: DEET Research Takes Center Stage
BBC World News: Interview with Claudia Hammond
Learn more about DEET from Wikipedia

Culex Mosquitoes Oviposition Attractants

Published in the Public Library of Sciences-PLoS ONE:
Odorless lure for trapping gravid females

See Article in

  • See Spotlight from the Brazilian Network Rede Globo in the program
    Bom Dia Brasil

  • Pheromone-Degrading Enzyme from the Japanese Beetle

    Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
    Chiral Discrimination of the Sex Pheromone and a Behavioral Antagonist

    See Press Release and Video Interview by
    The National Science Foundation
    NSF Interview

    Complete News
    By Kathy K. Garvey

    Pheromone Reception in Fruit Flies

    Chemosensory protein from the red imported fire ant (RIFA)

    Elementary School Student Gets Startling Results

    Previous Awards

    ESA Award

    Recent Awards

  • Walter Leal Received the C. W. Woodworth Award from the ESA Pacific Branch
    See Wikipedia

  • Zain Syed Named Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar for Excellence in Research UC Davis-Graduate Studies

  • Walter Leal Receives the Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology Entomological Society of America

  • Walter Leal Awarded Medal of Science from Brazilian Congress of Entomology
    See article in ComunidadeNews: Jornal da Comunidade Brasileira

    See article by Kathy K. Garvey

  • Walter Leal Received the International Society of Chemical Ecology's Silverstein-Simeone Lecture Award

  • Zain Syed Received UC Davis Citation for Excellence

  • Graduate Student Wei Xu Wins Two Awards at ESA Annual Meeting in Reno

  • Walter Leal Delivered Scudder Lecture in Entomology at the University of British Columbia

  • Walter Leal Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

    Video still image
    My eCV is Here

    Zainulabeuddin (Zain) Syed
    (Postdoctoral Scholar)
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    Julien Pelletier
    (Postdoctoral Scholar)
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    Ana Claudia do Amaral Melo
    (Scholar on sabbatical leave)
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    Wei Xu
    (Graduate Student)
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    Zhao Liu
    (Graduate Student-CHINA)
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    Ruben Palma
    (Graduate Student-CHILE)
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    Derrick Stacy
    (Undergraduate Student-ABI Program)
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    Charles Assare
    (Undergraduate Student-MCB)
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    (6th Grader-School Science Project)
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    Former Members
    Yuko Ishida
    Ana Lia Parra
    (Graduate Student)
    Stephanie DeBorde Dickey
    (Research Assistant)
    Armenak (Armen) Margaryan
    (Senior Research Scientist)
    Melissa L. Erickson (PGR)
    Jennifer Tsuruda (PGR)
    Scott McCluen
    (Junior Scientist)
    Chris Pagan
    (Undergraduate Student)
    Allison Manko
    (Undergraduate Student)
    Brooke Pannell (Student)
    Melissa Hardstone (Student)
    Tania Morgan
    (Graduate Student)
    Catherine Richardson (Student)
    Göde Schüler (PostDoc)
    Ning Li (GradStudent)
    Vicky Chiang (Student)
    Chunpei Wang (Student)
    Carol Chen (Student)
    Helen Wong (Student)
    Chris Bahr (PostDoc)
    John Garden
    (Senior Research Associate)
    Angela Chen (PGR)
    Justin Bonetto
    (Undergraduate Student)
    Shinichi Tebayashi
    (Visiting Scientist)

    Research Activities in our Lab are Sponsored by:

    National Institutes of Health-NIH
    Gifts from Various Donors, including
    Bedoukian Research Incorporation
    Fuji Flavor Co.


    Walter S. Leal
    1107 Surge I
    UC Davis / MCB

    Phone: +1-530-752-7755
    FAX: +1-530-752-1537


    Site maintained by Walter S. Leal wsleal@ucdavis.edu.
    Design was was adapted from http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/ (by namnguyen@ucdavis.edu)
    Last Updated: 5/5/14