Ever wondered how insects find you and your food? To find out, Mahmut Demir and Nirag Kadakia in the Emonet Lab imaged fruit flies as they navigated complex odor plumes transported downstream from a source by complex wind motions. They discovered that flies use the timing of their encounters with odor patches swept by the wind, to control how frequently they stop and turn. This probabilistic strategy enables insects to find their target under complex wind conditions, where there are no stable odor gradients to follow. Associate Professor Damon A Clark and NSF REU undergraduate student Hope Anderson – now a graduate student at The University of Chicago – are co-authors on the paper.
Read the paper or this Insight article about it.
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