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Richard Benton, Associate Professor

| Research Summary | Representative Publications

Richard Benton received his PhD in 2003 from the University of Cambridge. He joined Leslie Vosshall's laboratory at The Rockefeller University, New York, as an EMBO/Heley Hay Whitney post-doctoral fellow. He established his group at the Center for Integrative Genomics in September 2007, and was awarded an ERC Grant in 2008. In 2009, he won the Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology, and in 2011 he received an HFSP Young Investigator Award and was elected to the EMBO Young Investigator Programme. Richard received the Friedrich Miescher Award and the AChemS Young Investigator Award for Research in Olfaction in 2012. He was promoted to Associate Professor in August 2012. In 2013, he was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant.


Research Summary

Our group is interested in the genetic, neural and evolutionary basis of sensory perception.

As a model, we investigate the chemosensory systems of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, which control many sophisticated behaviours, but are numerically simple and experimentally highly accessible. We take a multidisciplinary experimental approach, including bioinformatics, genetics, molecular and cellular biology, electrophysiology, optical imaging, and behavioural analysis.

Several conceptually diverse projects are currently being pursued, including the structural and molecular basis of chemosensory receptor function, the anatomical and physiological properties of chemosensory circuits in the brain, the genetic and ecological basis of chemosensory circuit evolution, and the neural underpinnings of chemosensory-dependent social behaviours.

Representative Publications

Gomez-Diaz C, Reina JH, Cambillau C, and Benton R. Ligands for pheromone-sensing neurons are not conformationally-activated odorant binding proteins. PLOS Biology (2013) 11(4): e1001546

LeBoeuf A, Benton R* and Keller L*. The molecular basis of social behavior: models, methods and advances. Curr Opin Neurobiol (2013) 23(1):3-10 (*co-corresponding authors)

Ramdya P, Schaffter T, Floreano D and Benton R. Fluorescence Behavioral Imaging (FBI) tracks identity in heterogeneous groups of Drosophila. PLOS ONE (2012) 7(11):e4838

Grosjean Y, Rytz R, Farine JP, Abuin L, Cortot J, Jefferis GSXE and Benton R. An olfactory receptor for food-derived odours promotes male courtship in Drosophila. Nature (2011) 478(7368), 236-40

Silbering AF*, Rytz R*, Grosjean Y*, Abuin L, Ramdya P, Jefferis GSXE and Benton R. Complementary function and integrated wiring of the evolutionarily distinct Drosophila olfactory subsystems. The Journal of Neuroscience (2011) 31(38):13357-13375 (*equal contribution)

Abuin L., Bargeton B., Ulbrich M.H., Isacoff E.Y., Kellenberger S. and Benton R. Functional architecture of olfactory ionotropic glutamate receptors. Neuron (2011) 69, 44-60

Benton R. Neuroscience: Sexy circuits. Nature (2010) 468, 638-640

Ai M., Min S., Grosjean Y., Leblanc C., Bell R., Benton R., Suh, G.S.B. Acid sensing by the Drosophila olfactory system. Nature (2010) 468, 691-695

Croset V.*, Rytz R.*, Cummins S.F., Budd A., Brawand D., Kaessmann H., Gibson T.J. and Benton R. Ancient protostome origin of chemosensory ionotropic glutamate receptors and the evolution of insect taste and olfaction. PLOS Genetics (2010) 6(8): e1001064 (*equal contribution)

Ramdya, P, Benton R. Evolving olfactory systems on the fly. Trends in Genetics (2010), 26(7):307-16

Benton R. Evolution and revolution in odor detection. Science (2009) 326, 382-383

Benton R, Vannice KS, Gomez-Diaz C and Vosshall LB. Variant ionotropic glutamate receptors as chemosensory receptors in Drosophila. Cell (2009) 136(1):149-162

Benton R, Vannice KS and Vosshall LB. An essential role for a CD36 receptor in pheromone detection in Drosophila. Nature (2007) 450, 289-293

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