The olfactory world of insects is highly dynamic. Volatiles, once emitted from the source, are dispersed and diluted in the ambient air. Using a set of ∼60 odorant receptors (ORs), the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is able to extract valuable information from the plume in terms of odor identity and intensity. ORs are heteromeric complexes constituted by an odor-specific OrX and a co-receptor termed Orco. These are expressed in olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) housed in the antenna and maxillary palps. They are capable of resolving fast changes in odor pulses and can adjust their sensitivity based on previous odor stimuli. This work is dedicated to the characterization and regulation of insect ORs. We have done so in heterologous expression systems and in the ORs native environment combining genetic and pharmacological manipulations with functional imaging techniques and electrophysiology. Our results highlight the importance of understanding signal processing at the periphery, considering the different players involved in the olfactory response.
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