Welcome to the Carlson Lab


Olfaction in Drosophila

Olfaction offers a wealth of biological problems awaiting understanding in molecular terms.  We’re interested in the remarkable sensitivity of the olfactory system, its ability to distinguish among odors, and the mechanisms by which sensory input is translated into behavioral output. Drosophila has a highly sophisticated olfactory system, which we study with molecular, genetic, physiological, computational, and behavioral approaches.

Taste in Drosophila

Drosophila is able to taste a remarkable diversity of organic molecules.  We discovered a family of 60 seven-transmembrane-domain genes, the Gr (Gustatory receptor) genes, and showed that they encode taste receptors.  We are now integrating a study of taste receptors and an analysis of taste neurons to explore the molecular and cellular basis of taste.  The goal is to define the functional organization of the taste system and the logic by which it encodes chemical information.

Chemoperception in insects that transmit global disease

We are interested in how insects such as the malaria mosquito and the tsetse fly use their chemosensory systems to detect and locate human hosts.  The work may lead to new means of controlling the transmission of malaria and African sleeping sickness.

2020 Publications

Rioux, D and Carlson J.R., (2020) Olfaction: Receptors Antagonistes, Current Biology 30: R815-R817.

Baik, LS and Carlson J.R., (2020) The mosquito taste system and disease control, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 117(52):32848-32856.

Dweck, H.K.M. and Carlson, J.R. (2020) Molecular logic and evolution of bitter taste in Drosophila, Current Biology, 30,17-30.

2019 Publication

He, Z., Luo, Y., Shang, X., Sun, J.S., and Carlson, J.R., (2019) Chemosensory sensilla of the Drosophila wing express a candidate ionotropic pheromone receptor, PLoS Biology, 17(5), e2006619

Xiao, S., Sun, J.S., and Carlson, J.R. (2019), Robust olfactory responses in the absence of odorant binding proteins, eLife, e51040.  

Soni, N., Chahda, J.S., Carlson, J.R., (2019) Odor coding in the antenna of the tsetse fly Glossina morsitans, PNAS 116(28):14300-14308 (cover article).

Chahda, J.S., Soni, N., Sun, J. Ebrahim, S., Weiss, B., and Carlson, J.R. (2019) The molecular and cellular basis of olfactory response to tsetse fly attractants,  PLoS Genetics, 15(3):e1008005.


Selected Earlier Publications

Research Articles:

Sun, J.S., Larter, N., Chahda, J.S., Rioux, D., Gunmaste, A., and Carlson, J.R. (2018) Humidity response depends on the small soluble protein Obp59a in Drosophila, eLife 2018; e39249

Joseph, R.M., Sun, J.S., Tam, E., Carlson, J.R. (2017) A receptor and neuron that activate a circuit limiting sucrose consumption, eLife 2017;6:e24992.

Larter, N. K., Sun, J. S. and Carlson, J. R. (2016). Organization and function of Drosophila odorant binding proteins, eLife 2016;5:e20242.

Delventhal, R. and Carlson, J. R. (2016) Functions of Drosophila bitter taste receptors in different neuronal contexts, eLife 2016;5:e11181. 

Koh, T.-W., He, Z., Gorur-Shandilya, S., Menuz, K. Larter, K., Stewart, S. and Carlson, J. (2014), The Drosophila IR20a clade of Ionotropic Receptors are candidate taste and pheromone receptors  Neuron 83, 850-865.

Su, C.-Y., Menuz, K., Reiser, J. and Carlson J.  (2012).  Non-synaptic inhibition between grouped neurons in an olfactory circuit, Nature 492, 66-71.

Weiss, L., Dahanukar, A., Kwon, J.Y., Banerjee, D. and J. R. Carlson (2011).  The molecular and cellular basis of bitter taste in Drosophila.  Neuron  69, 258-272.

Carey, A., Wang, G., Su, C.-Y., Zwiebel, L., and J. Carlson (2010).  Odor reception in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae Nature 464, 66-71.

Kreher, S., Mathew, D., Kim, J., and Carlson, J. (2008) Translation of sensory input into behavioral output via an olfactory system. Neuron 59, 110-124.

Ray, A., Van der Goes van Naters, W., and Carlson, J. (2008) A regulatory code for neuron-specific odor receptor expression. PLOS Biology 6, 1069-1083. 

Dahanukar, A., Lei, Y., Kwon, J, and Carlson, J. (2007) Two Gr genes underlie sugar reception in Drosophila. Neuron 56, 503-516. 

Ray A., van der Goes van Naters W., Shiraiwa T., and Carlson J.R. (2007) Mechanisms of odor receptor gene choice in Drosophila.  Neuron 53, 353-69. 

Hallem, E., and Carlson, J.R. (2006) Odor coding by a receptor repertoire. Cell 125, 143-160. 

Kreher, S.A., Kwon, J.Y., and Carlson, J.R. (2005) The molecular basis of odor coding in the Drosophila larva. Neuron 46, 445-456. 

Goldman A.L., Van der Goes van Naters W, Lessing D, Warr C.G., and Carlson J.R. (2005) Coexpression of two functional odor receptors in one neuron. Neuron 45, 661-666. 

Hallem, E.A., Ho, M.G., and Carlson, J. (2004) The Molecular Basis of Odor Coding in the Drosophila Antenna, Cell 117, 965-979. 

Hallem, E.A., Fox, N., Zwiebel, L., and Carlson, J.R. (2004) Olfaction: Mosquito Receptor for Human-Sweat Odorant, Nature 427, 212-213. 

Dobritsa, A., van der Goes van Naters, W., Warr, C., Steinbrecht, A., and Carlson, J. (2003) Integrating the molecular and cellular basis of odor coding in the Drosophila antenna, Neuron 37, 827-841. 

Dahanukar, A., Foster, K., van der Goes van Naters, W., and Carlson, J. (2001) A Gr Receptor is Required for Response to the Sugar Trehalose in Taste Neurons of Drosophila, Nature Neurosci. 12, 1182-1186. 

de Bruyne, M., Foster, K., and Carlson, J. (2001) Odor coding in the Drosophila antenna, Neuron 30, 537-552. 

Clyne, P., Warr, C. and Carlson, J. (2000) Candidate Taste Receptors in Drosophila, Science 287, 1830-1834. 

Clyne, P., Warr, C., Freeman, M., Lessing, D., Kim, J., and Carlson, J. (1999) A Novel Family of Seven Transmembrane Proteins: Candidate Odorant Receptors in Drosophila, Neuron 22, 327-338. 

Clyne, P., Certel, S., de Bruyne, M., Zaslavsky, L., Johnson, W., and Carlson, J. (1999) The Odor Specificities of a Subset of Olfactory Receptor Neurons Are Governed by Acj6, a POU Domain Transcription Factor, Neuron 22, 339-347.

Review Articles:

Joseph, R. and Carlson, J.R. (2015) Drosophila chemoreceptors:  a molecular interface between the chemical world and the brain,  Trends in Genetics 31, 683-95. 

Carlson, J. and Carey, A. (2011)  Scent of a Human. Scientific American 305, 76-79.

Carey, A. and Carlson, J. (2011)  Insect olfaction from model systems to disease control. PNAS 108, 12987-12995.

Su, C.-Y., Menuz, K., and  J. Carlson (2009)  Olfactory perception: receptors, cells, and circuits. Cell 139, 45-59.

van der Goes van Naters W. and Carlson J.R. (2006)  Insects as chemosensors of humans and crops.  Nature 444: 302-7.