Richard Benton, Associate Professor
Richard Benton received his PhD in 2003 from the University of Cambridge for work in the group of Daniel St Johnston at The Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute. He joined Leslie Vosshall's laboratory at The Rockefeller University, New York, for his post-doctoral training, funded by EMBO and the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. 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.
Keywords: neuroscience, neuron, sensory, olfaction, chemosensation, pheromone, receptor, genetics, Drosophila, insects, evolution
E-mail Richard Benton
From bacteria to humans, all organisms derive vital information from chemical signals in their environment. These may indicate the presence of food or dangers such as fire and predators. Many social interactions between members of the same species are also mediated by chemical communication, including aggregation and courtship behaviours. We are interested in the genetic, neural and evolutionary basis of how organisms detect chemical signals, process them in the brain, and respond with the appropriate behaviour.
Our experimental focus is the olfactory system of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Drosophila is a genetically tractable model organism that displays a rich repertoire of chemosensory-driven behaviours under the control of a relatively simple nervous system. Combining genomics and genetics, molecular and cellular biology, electrophysiology and behavioural analysis, we aim to dissect the sense of smell from the gene, to the neuron, to the circuit, to the behaviour.
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